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The Space Needle will have a new look in 2018

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The iconic landmark is getting a makeover

The Space Needle in 2007.
Jason Wolff/Flickr

The Space Needle has been the most recognizable point of Seattle’s skyline since the Century 21 exhibition 55 years ago, but many aspects of its look hasn’t changed a whole lot. That’s about to change: Starting later this year, parts of the Space Needle will close up shop for an extensive remodel, its third during its lifetime.

Before anyone starts freaking out, the look of Seattle’s skyline will remain largely unchanged.

The Space Needle, before and after remodel. The Seattle skyline will change very little.
All images courtesy of the Space Needle and Olson Kundig

Building technology and standards has changed a lot since 1962, including improved access for people with disabilities. Space Needle LLC, which owns the Needle and runs its day-to-day operations, hopes to update the landmark to create a better experience while taking advantage of new technology in materials and construction.

At the same time, they hope to preserve the original vision for the landmark. They, along with design firm Olson Kundig, have been working with local architecture historians and preservationists, including the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, to get the plans right.

Here’s what they came up with. The short version: More glass, more views. More minimalist, less obstruction.

The wire barriers on the observation deck will be replaced by glass, which the Needle’s press release will “match the flow of the building” and “offer a seamless sight line.”

Glass benches will jut out from every other panel, providing seating without blocking the view—in case you’re looking down to the sound.

In an attempt to maximize views from the inside, they’re extending interior viewing windows down to the ground.

An open staircase to and from the restaurant level has a clear sightline to the outside, in what the Needle and Olson Kundig call an “intent to return to the minimalist original interior.”

Down in the restaurant, the famous rotating floor will still be there—but it’ll be made of glass, too, exposing the mechanics underneath. Some adjustments will be made to open up the space and the view here, too.

Design renderings provided by Olson Kundig aren’t indicative of the final restaurant design, which will be completed by Adam D. Tihany, but it gives some idea of the kinds of changes that will be made.

The design includes improved accessibility and crowd movement, with an ADA lift, double-sized doors, and wide stairways.

In a statement, Space Needle chairman Jeff Wright called this a “pivotal moment.”

The privately-funded project will cost an estimated $100 million. The restaurant and event space will be closed during the first phase of construction, which is planned to stretch from September 2017 to June 2018, but people will still be able to see the observation deck—and get a view of both the city and the construction.

Space Needle

400 Broad Street, , WA 98109