Work on the reimagined observation deck (which remains open) and the restaurant (temporarily closed) will be complete in about six months.
Through rain, wind and snow, about 100 construction workers have been tearing out the innards and flooring of the Space Needle’s restaurant in 10-hour shifts the past month — all while making sure no harm comes to visitors on the observation deck just a few dozen feet above them.
“It’s like building a ship inside a glass bottle,” said Mike Rotter, one of the Hoffman Construction superintendents overseeing the landmark’s $100 million renovation. The Needle’s restaurant, SkyCity Restaurant, has been closed to the public since September, but the observation level will remain open to the public throughout the remodel (with some parts cordoned off.)
On the crew’s to-do list: By May 2018, install see-through floors and a new motor in the Needle’s rotating restaurant and, in stages, replace the observation deck’s cagelike wire barriers with 1-ton glass panels.
While it’s generally not uncommon to keep structures open to the public during large-scale remodels, Rotter said, the altitude presents challenges. Every proposed change is reviewed three times by engineers on the project, according to Karen Olson, chief marketing officer for the Space Needle.
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To work on the flooring of the restaurant, the crew fashioned a heavy, open-air platform just underneath, hoisted about 400 feet above the ground. To keep the weather from interfering while on the platform (conditions can be somewhat harsh up there), Rotter said they’ve put up tarps when necessary.
At a media tour of the construction site Monday, the interior of SkyCity was barely recognizable. The carpet was gone, and wires and various tubes hung from the ceiling. A portable toilet sat where the kitchen used to be. Almost all of the windows were covered, save for a few tears in the tarp exposing a view of the Puget Sound.
According to Olson, SkyCity will become the first rotating glass-floor restaurant in the world once it reopens. The menu overhaul and new pricing for the restaurant are still being discussed, she said.
Other changes for the city’s saucer-in-the-sky include fresh paint on the exterior, and, possibly, some more elevators.
You can find more updates and trivia about the Space Needle revamp at seewhatsup.space/.