Photo: The Space Needle

Photo: The Space Needle

Construction Begins on Space Needle’s Historic Renovation

September 29, 2017

On September 16, the Space Needle 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. Designed by Alan Maskin and Blair Payson of Olson Kundig, the Century Project aims to reveal the historic tower’s internal structure and harken back to the original concept 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. Phase 1 work will begin with the construction and raising of an elevated lift platform. Commonly used for work on bridges, the elevated lift platform will be carefully hoisted into place 500 feet in the air using 12 independent cables and motors. Then, an enclosure will be built to create a safe, elevated workspace. From there, crews will work on the structure in 1/6th pie-shaped segments, addressing all levels of the Space Needle’s Tophouse at one time.

Photo: The Space Needle

This project is truly unmatched in its complexity. We’ve asked a lot of our 200+ partners to get us to this point. It’s humbling everyday 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 let our visiting guests get a firsthand view of the renovation.

Ron Sevart, president and CEO, Space Needle LLC
Photo: The Space Needle

Photo: The Space Needle

For the first time in my 30 year career I've designed a project where the site is located five hundred feet in the air. After four years and many obstacles, the scaffolding will be lifted into place today and construction begins in earnest. Today is the day our ideas move closer to reality - and all of us at Olson Kundig could not be more excited.

Alan Maskin, Design Principal
Photo: The Space Needle

Photo: The Space Needle

Following demolition and construction of the elevated lift, phase 1 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 feet high, 7 feet wide and weigh 2,300 pounds, getting them up to the Tophouse presents some challenges. However, teams have constructed special carts and lifts to move the materials.

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 Century Project marks the third major renovation in the Space Needle’s history. The project aims to achieve LEED Silver certification. For more information, visit

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