The Century Project is a multi-year venture focused on preservation and renovation of the iconic Space Needle. Privately funded, the ambitious $100 million project will reinvent both the Observation Deck and restaurant level, as well as update the Space Needle’s internal systems. The renovation aims to reveal the historic tower’s internal structure and harken back to the original conceptual sketches, all while expanding and improving its views.

Project Overview

  • In the conceptual designs from 1961-62, the observation windows were exaggerated in comparison to the Space Needle we know today. Building construction was limited to what the technology of the day would allow for. The Century Project will leverage cutting-edge glass technology to expand views and deliver the grand vision of the Space Needle’s founders.

  • Internal enhancement concepting was first presented to Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board in 2009. The project team started planning in 2013 and went back to the Landmarks Preservation Board 2015-2016.

  • The project team worked with Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board, local architecture historians, original designers, preservationists and the community to be consistent with the original design intent and respect the character-defining features of the Space Needle. The team spent years working on the renovation plan for this significant structure to enliven the original designers’ bold aspirations into a new reinvigorated experience.

  • Through the innovative usage of materials and upgrades to internal systems the Century Project aims to achieve LEED Silver Certification, a significant feat for a building this unique.

  • Construction for phase one will fully begin in Sept. 2017, with some pre-work this summer, and is expected to wrap by June 2018.

  • Pre-work includes seismic work along the steel legs of the superstructure. 

  • The Space Needle was built to withstand the largest earthquakes on record in 1962. Seismic tests today underscore its stability, enhancements will simply bring the building up to modern design standards.

  • Subsequent phases of the project will include the full completion of the new dining experience, updating the elevators, as well as repainting the structure.

Core Components

Observation Deck

  • New glass barriers, which in matching the flow of the building will dip outward at a slight angle, will replace the wire “caging” on the outer Observation Deck offering a seamless sight line.

  • Sleek, canted glass benches will be affixed to alternating glass barriers that should leave guests – although inward facing – with feet dangling, leaning out over the city below for a perfect spine-tingling Seattle selfie.

  • Floor-to-ceiling glass will replace the low-level exterior walls on the Observation Deck creating an uninhibited view from the moment guests step off the elevator.

  • Currently, there are three doors opening to the outer Observation Deck. These areas will double in size, allowing for a more gracious, crowd friendly ingress and egress to the outer deck. A new custom-designed, state-of-the-art ADA lift will also be added.

  • In the interior, a dramatic new open circular stairway made of steel, wood, and glass will wind down from the Observation Deck to the restaurant level. At the base of the new open stairway will be a glass-floored oculus revealing views of the Needle’s steel superstructure, as well as the elevators and counterweights ascending and descending.

  • The grand staircase will, for the first time, openly connect the Observation Deck to the restaurant level. The restrooms on the mezzanine level will also be expanded to better serve guest needs.

Restaurant Level

  • The restaurant level, located just below the Observation Deck, will also feature floor-to-ceiling glass and will see an upgrade of its traditional rotating floor with one of glass, creating an awe-inspiring new view — a look down at the sprawling Seattle Center campus.

  • The new floor will reveal the mechanics of the turntable, which consist of a series of 12 motors. The power transmission will rely on rolling peg gears to minimize friction and wear.

  • With the additional windows, even guests dining at internal tables will enjoy uninhibited views.

  • The restaurant will get a full renovation, with a new, sleek experience and an expanded lobby. The Space Needle is working with New York-based Tihany Design to create a new dining and lounge experience that will showcase the thrilling views.

  • Currently, the Space Needle operates a variety of dining experiences include a café, wine bar, banquet facility at the 100-foot level and the rotating SkyCity Restaurant at the 500-foot level.

  • The Space Needle has been working with world-renowned designer Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design to create a new restaurant and lounge experience that will showcase the thrilling views.

  • Each of these dining experiences will re-open in stages upon their completion in the spring of 2018.

Materials and Process

  • The Century Project is innovative in its usage of glass, using virtually every variety available today. In total, 10 different types, and more than 176 tons of glass will be used.

  • All of the glass panels lack a mullion, or frame, between. This was a conscious decision to allow for clean sight lines, again harkening back to the original intention of the Space Needle – to observe the changing city below.

  • Already a complicated project due to the nature of construction at 500-feet in the air, the oversized glass panels will be hoisted with a gantry crane. Most other materials will be coming up the elevators.

  • An additional challenge, the Space Needle is an active building, contracting, twisting and expanding depending on wind and temperature. That makes any construction project and choice of materials a difficult one.

  • Hoffman Construction used cutting-edge technologies to scan the building for shop drawings. These virtual scans, which were conducted with a laser and are proven to be accurate to a 16th inch, are what inform the precise measurements for each of the hundreds of glass panels.

  • The glass is being supplied by companies in Switzerland, Germany, and California. Outside of that, costs and partners are primarily Seattle or Pacific Northwest-based.

  • Work will take place in sections, focusing on 1/6 of the building at a time. Access to that portion of the space will be closed. Work will continue around the building counterclockwise.

    • It’s anticipated that less than 30 percent of the Observation Deck will be impacted at a time, leaving more than 70 percent open to the public.


  • The Century Project is a complex undertaking, requiring many contractors, subcontractors, and specialists. In total, more than 250 partners are coming together to see the project to fruition. Key players include:

  • Olson Kundig
    Olson Kundig is a Seattle-based design practice founded on the ideas that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people, and that inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives. The firm specializes in new and renovated residential projects, particularly for art collectors; mixed-use buildings; academic, cultural and civic projects; museums and exhibit design; places of worship; urban design; interior and product design for clients around the globe. Olson Kundig, led by Design Principal, Alan Maskin, and Project Architect, Blair Payson, is the architect for the Century Project.

  • Hoffman Construction
    With offices in both Oregon and Washington, Hoffman Construction Company is one of the largest general contractors in the United States and has completed some of the most challenging projects in the world. Hoffman is the general contractor for the Century Project.

  • Seneca Group
    Based in Seattle, Seneca Group has earned a reputation for delivering quality real estate advisory and development management services to private and public sector clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. Seneca Group is acting as the development manager for the Century Project. 

  • Tihany Design
    Widely regarded as one of the world’s preeminent hospitality designers, Adam D. Tihany has created hotel and dining interiors at some of the most iconic properties around the globe, including Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, One & Only Cape Town, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, and Atmosphere at The Burj Khalifa. Tihany was one of the first designers to collaborate with celebrity chefs, creating signature restaurants for culinary stars such as Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Now setting his sights on the seas, Tihany is bringing his visionary design concepts to the next wave of Holland America Line and ultra luxury Seabourn vessels, slated for delivery through 2018. Tihany Design is a multidisciplinary design atelier with offices in New York and Rome. Tihany is working on a new restaurant and lounge concept for the Century Project.

  • Fives Lund, LLC
    Seattle-based Fives Lund, LLC was founded in 1995 and specializes in the design, procurement, and manufacturing of extremely high-tolerance mechanical and electromechanical assemblies. The company has established themselves in numerous industries as a first-class, turnkey, engineering firm that performs a wide range of services from conceptual design through the testing and shipment of a final hardware product. For the Century Project, Fives Lund is consulting on the design and fabrication of the turntable for the rotating glass floor.

  • Arup
    Arup is a world-renown, multi-disciplinary firm of firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. They are serving as the electrical, mechanical and structural engineer for the Century Project. Based in London, and starting with the engineering of Australia’s Sydney Opera House, Arup has strived to solve the most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality.

  • Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA)
    For 97 years, MKA has engineered enduring, creative designs, with $99 billion worth of projects in 47 states and 54 countries. Headquartered in Seattle, MKA boasts highly targeted expertise and the best structural and civil engineering solutions in the industry. Their designs have been recognized with a top national ACEC “Engineering Excellence Award” 27 times in the last 30 years. The Space Needle team has employed MKA to consult on seismic upgrades for the Century Project.

  • Front, Inc.
    Front is a design consulting firm comprised of more than fifty professionals with backgrounds in architecture and structural, mechanical, and environmental engineering. They provide specialist façade system design expertise and are advising on glazing design for the Century Project.

  • O’Brien & Company
    Seattle-based O’Brien & Company is a nationally recognized consulting organization committed to the creation of a sustainably built environment. The Space Needle has called on them for consulting on LEED requirements for the Century Project. Drawing on a strong foundation of industry knowledge and field experience, O’Brien offers finely targeted services that result in a practical, more sustainable reality.

  • Apex Steel
    Apex Steel’s approach to construction is based on strict schedule adherence, accurate cost control, and a safe, motivated workforce. A leader in the Pacific Northwest, Apex works with qualified general contractors who share their ambition for a quality, cost-competitive project. Apex is the structural steel installer for the Century Project.

  • Safway
    Safway provides scaffolding services throughout the U.S. and Canada for the commercial construction of bridge, special events and industrial markets. They are fulfilling the unique scaffold needs of the Century Project.