Architects: Olson Kundig
- Year: 2019
Photographs:Hufton + Crow
Engineering: Front, Fives Lund, Arup, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Olson Kundig
- Design Team: Naomi Mason, Alex Fritz, Alan Maskin, Laina Navarro, Hayden Robinson, Blair Payson, Crystal Coleman, Marlene Chen, Julia Khorsand
- City: Seattle
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. Olson Kundig has unveiled the Century Project, a sensitive renovation of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle overseen by Alan Maskin, Design Principle of the firm. Maskin’s design is, in all ways, about expanding views. Removing walls, barriers and floors and replacing them with structural glass created a dramatically updated visitor experience.
With 196% more glass than before, Maskin’s new design gives the Space Needle’s 1.3 million annual visitors a physical and emotional experience defined by awe-inspiring views of Puget Sound, the city of Seattle and the Space Needle itself. The new, multi-level tower features “The Loupe” – the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. Visitors to “The Loupe” can walk, stand or sit on the glass floor suspended 500 feet above the city, taking in never-before-seen views of the Space Needle’s exterior structure and elevators.
The new kinetic mechanism powering the floor’s rotation is also visible for the first time, continuing Olson Kundig’s legacy of revealing the inherent beauty of kinetic systems. Higher up, at the 520-foot level, visitors will step off elevators to be greeted by a completely unobstructed panorama. Maskin’s design expands views in all directions with new glass doors and seamless floor-to-ceiling glass panels.
Outside, the wire caging and partial walls on the observation deck have been replaced with 11-by-7-foot structural glass barriers with integral glass benches. These “Skyrisers” allow guests to slide back against the glass panels to experience the feeling of floating above the city. With no walls, seams or mullions between each glass panel, guests can now enjoy uninterrupted views of the city and beyond.
A new grand staircase connects the upper and lower levels via an open circular stairway cantilevered out from the Space Needle’s core. At the base of the curved steel-and-glass stairway is “The Oculus”, a 19- by-11-foot piece of floored glass that reveals the Space Needle’s superstructure for the first time, as well as the elevators and their ascending and descending counterweights.
While the landmarked Space Needle appears materially unchanged from the outside, updated building systems and the dramatically enhanced visitor experience bring the Space Needle into the future, preserving its legacy for generations to come. The project is targeting LEED® Gold for Commercial Interiors certification and is currently open to the public.