The Space Needle, one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, today announced the official start of construction for the Century Project, a multi-year venture focused on preservation and renovation of the 55-year-old icon.
The Space Needle, one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, today announced the official start of construction for the Century Project, a multi-year venture focused on preservation and renovation of the 55-year-old icon. A project several years in the making, the Century Project aims to reveal the historic tower's internal structure and harken back to the original conceptual sketches, all while expanding and improving the Space Needle's iconic views and guest experience.
Beginning this month, crews will be onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week working through the first of several phases of construction. It's estimated that between 100 to 170 workers in 18 different categories of trade work will be onsite any given day. Initial work will begin with the demolition and removal of materials from the restaurant level, as well as the construction and raising of an elevated lift platform. Commonly used for work on bridges, the elevated lift platform will, uncommonly, be carefully hoisted into place 500 ft. in the air using 12 independent cables and motors. Over the course of a few weeks, an enclosure will be built, creating a safe, elevated workspace separate from guests. From there, crews will take a unique approach, working on the structure in 1/6th pie-shaped segments, addressing all levels of the Space Needle's Tophouse at one time.
"This project is truly unmatched in its complexity," said Ron Sevart, president and CEO, Space Needle LLC. "We've asked a lot of our more than 200 partners to get us to this point. It's humbling every day to see the creativity everyone has brought to the table. It's that extra effort that will allow us to keep the Observation Deck open during this process, and to let our visiting guests get a firsthand view of the renovation."
Following demolition and construction of the elevated lift, work will continue with the installation of a gantry crane on the tower's roof to facilitate the hoisting of thousands of pounds of materials. At least 176 tons of glass will be added to the Observation Deck and restaurant level, expanding the iconic views by more than 25 percent. With 10 different varieties of glass, and panels that are 11 ft. high, 7 ft. wide and weigh 2,300 lbs., getting them up to the Tophouse presents challenges. Fortunately, creativity is again on display as teams have constructed special carts and lifts to move materials.
"This is a historic time for the Space Needle and city of Seattle," said Karen Olson, CMO, Space Needle. "When the Space Needle was first constructed the community was involved and engaged throughout the process, and we've approached this project the same way. We've worked hard to create an approach that allows us to remain open during construction, offering guests the unprecedented experience of seeing the renovation of an icon."
Guests visiting during the construction phase will be able to see the work in progress, including the new sections of the Observation Deck as they are completed. The Space Needle is also offering free school group tours and has created a website that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process – www.seewhatsup.space. The Century Project marks the third major renovation in the Space Needle's history. The SkyLine event space at the 100-ft. level was added in 1982, and the new Pavilion entrance and expanded retail were added in 2000. The project aims to achieve LEED Silver certification.