Case Study of the Seattle Space Needle

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Since The Seattle- Space Needle building opened in 1962, it has been one the greatest symbols in Seattle, Washington State. This building is a modernistic type of an architectural building; and is an icon for Seattle and is a symbol of the Seattle World’s fair. It is also a historic landmark for Washington; established by the Landmarks Preservation Board. It was labeled a historic landmark in April 1999; 38 years after it was been built.

This tower is built on the western side of the Mississippi River. The total cost of this development and building was approximately $5 million. The tower is 605 ft tall with its antenna structure and it is a 518.8 ft tall building without the antenna. With this height the building is fairly proportioned with the width being 138 ft.

This building was sketched by Eddie Carlson (1911-1990). The Space Needle was designed by architects John Graham Jr. and John Ridle. John Graham based the idea of the Seattle Space Needle on a flying saucer and Victor Steinbrueck, the structural engineer had brought in the idea of the hour glass figure for its long, strong slender supporting legs. This building had up to five different investors. It was designed by two men and is able to withstand all sorts of weather conditions, for example; winds of above 320 km/h that are a Hurricane strength at Category 5 which are wind speeds of up to 252 km/h or stronger that can be destructive on a large scale and earthquakes up to the magnitude of 9.1. The tower sways about 1 inch per 10 mph of wind speeds. It also has 25 lightning rods which allow the building to withstand substantial amounts of lightning strikes.

The buildings construction had begun in April, 1961. This development created job opportunities for many of the local construction companies and took about 8 months to fully complete the construction of the building, in December 1961, yet the tower was only opened for public visits in April 1962, during the World Fair. Here, almost 2.3 million people rode up to the Seattle - Space Needle's Observation Deck. Construction was successfully completed within 400 days, thus dubbing the building "The 400 day wonder." The grand opening gathered around 20000 visitors from many different countries. The building construction was carried out by the Howard S. Wright Construction Co, the main contractors of the building project. The building has a design of an Observation tower. Hence, due to the above mentioned facts, it is my choice to write on this interesting building - the Seattle Space Needle.

The construction began with the pouring of the foundation which was one of the largest concrete pouring’s in the Western Coast of its era. The foundation of the legs are in a shape of a “Y” and, are deep and wide so that it can withstand a large scale magnitude of an earthquake and the strong winds that face the tower with its height. These foundations are roughly 30 ft deep and 120 ft wide. These footings of the building are fixed to the earth with 74 bolts, which are 30 ft long, thus holding the tower in its upright position. The foundations were poured over 12 hour periods and with a total truck load of 5.85 million kgs of cement concrete foundations including the steel which weighed about 5850 tons with 250 tons of reinforcing steel combined. This consisted of about 467 truck loads of concrete. This building mainly consists of large, heavy steel which weights around 9.7 million kgs.

The Space Needle has a 360 degree view of Seattle from its rotating restaurant and viewing deck. The restaurant is in a doughnut shape and rotates on a gear system that travels at an average or estimated speed of 1.8 km/h. The elevator of this building has been specially design so that it takes approximately 41 seconds to get to the upper most viewing deck which travels at 10 miles per hour (16 km/h).

Since this building is an observation tower, it has an observation deck which is at a height of 5.24 ft above the finish ground level. A viewer will be able to see the city below and surroundings sites such as the Cascade Mountains, Mount Baker and many other surrounding sites. The first restaurant known as the “Space Needle Restaurant” or the “Eye of the Needle” was closed down in the 2000’s for the new and developed 360º revolving restaurant. This restaurant was named the “Sky City” and is the first revolving upper class restaurant in the world. The Sky City makes a full revolution in 47 minutes and is 4.9 ft above the natural ground level which allows a patron the view of the city and its surroundings as he dines. The main design feature of the restaurant is having the ability of always having the outside view; hence, one of its main materials are most likely toughed safety glass with the kitchen and other services at the center or offset center on the restaurant floor. Other renovations that occurred between 1999 and 2000 were a retail store for visitors to buy ornaments and other artifacts as souvenirs, the improvement of the viewing deck, repainting and the replacement of old and warn out lighting.

One of the latest design features that were added onto the Space Needle in 1999 was the Legacy Light, also commonly known as the Sky Beam. This feature is created by the use of a basic unit of luminous intensities of light at the top of the tower. This feature was to be used on special occasions or on public holidays, but due to the amount of light pollution it has created, it has to be used to certain limitations and occasion. It was first illuminated on New Year's eve 1999/2000. This feature was also used to show sympathy during the 911 World Trade Centre terrorism attack and remained lit up for 11 days, from September 11th to September 22th.

Today, the Seattle Space Needle is home to 325 employees and 11 facility engineers who ensure that routine maintenance and work orders are carried out timeously. Many green initiatives have also been adopted, such as upgrades to lighting systems to more sustainable and energy efficient alternatives. Food including scraps and waste from the kitchen are made into compost. This initiative has not only reduced time and energy, but has also significantly reduced maintenance costs and also plays a role in saving our Earth’s Ozone layer and at the same time reducing the greenhouse effect.

The Seattle Space Needle does not only play host to the numerous amounts of tourists it receives year in year out but is also host to many movie sets, such as the Austin Powers second movie “The Spy Who Shagged Me”. It was show cased in the TV series and in various video games.

The Seattle Space Needle has uplifted the face of Seattle, Washington State as it is one of the first skyscrapers to be built in its time. This brought on the design and development of other skyscrapers since which have vastly exceeded the height of the Seattle- Space Needle, thus making it the dwarf of skyscrapers in Seattle. This building still remains one of the main tourist attraction sites in Washington, United States of America, since it is unique and has an astounding design that will remain an attraction to tourists and visitors alike from all walks of life the world over.