If you peer up at the Space Needle (*400 Broad St; spaceneedle.com) today, things won’t look much different from the original structure at the 1962 World’s Fair: a flying saucer perched atop a pinnacle. Take the elevators to the top, though, and the look is vastly different. In June 2018, the iconic structure completed a historic $100 million renovation that involved a complete overhaul of its public-facing spaces.
The outdoor observation deck’s fencing is gone, giving way to seemingly endless expanses of glass—each pane weighs a ton and measures 11 feet tall. Cantilevered glass benches tip backward and allow for selfies that look like you’re floating on air. “We’re getting out of the way of the view,” says Karen Olson, the Space Needle’s chief marketing officer. The old SkyCity Restaurant—formerly a special occasion establishment with a sophisticated Mad Men vibe—reopens in the fall as a futuristic, space-age eatery and lounge, one that Olson notes actually returns the icon to its original design intent. “The whole World’s Fair was about the future, science, space,” Olson says. “We asked, ‘What are we about?’ We’re about the future, and we should be the restaurant of the future.”
Other changes: The solid rotating floor will be gone, replaced with a—you guessed it—rotating glass floor that showcases the turntable mechanics like the inside of a watch; the observation level will feature a new cafe and bar; and a grand staircase will connect the two floors. The one holdover from the old version of the Space Needle is the food focus, which will still be very much about Seattle and its fresh, local ingredients.
“The Space Needle was built to be the symbol of Seattle,” Olson says. “It has a really awesome spirit to how it was designed and built about the future, and this whole process of going ‘back to the future’ has been cool to discover.”
*Visit Seattle Partner
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