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The two leading ideas for the World Fair involved businessman Edward E. Carlson 's sketch of a giant balloon tethered to the ground the gently sloping base and architect John Graham 's concept of a flying saucer the halo that houses the restaurant and observation deck. The 6.
The Space Needle will not sustain serious structural damage during earthquakes of magnitudes below 9. These were closed in to make way for SkyCity, a larger restaurant that features Pacific Northwest cuisine. It rotates degrees in exactly forty-seven minutes. On December 31 , , a powerful beam of light was unveiled for the first time.
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Called the Legacy Light or Skybeam, it is powered by lamps that total 85 million candela shining skyward from the top of the Space Needle to honor national holidays and special occasions in Seattle. The concept of this beam was derived from the official World's Fair poster, which depicted such a light source although none was incorporated into the original design. It is somewhat controversial because of the light pollution it creates.
It did remain lit for eleven days in a row from September 11, , to September 22, , in response to the September 11, attacks. A Seattle World's Fair poster  showed a grand spiral entryway leading to the elevator that was ultimately omitted from final building plans. The main stairwell has steps from the basement to the top of the observation deck.
Wright Construction Co. Edward F.
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Carlson, chairman of the World's Fair in Seattle, had an idea for erecting a tower with a restaurant at the World's Fair. Carlson was president of a hotel company and was not recognized in art or design, but he was inspired by a recent visit to the Stuttgart Tower of Germany. Local architect John Graham soon became involved as a result of his success in designing Northgate Mall.
Graham's first move was to alter the restaurant's original design to a revolving restaurant , similar to his previous design of the La Ronde tower restaurant at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Hawaii. The proposed Space Needle had no pre-selected site. Since it was not financed by the city, land had to be purchased within the fairgrounds. At this point, only one year remained before the World's Fair would begin.
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The foundation weighs tons including tons of reinforcing steel , the same as the above-ground structure. With time an issue, the construction team worked around the clock. The domed top, housing the top five levels including the restaurants and observation deck , was perfectly balanced so that the restaurant could rotate with the help of one tiny electric motor, originally 0.
With paint colors named Orbital Olive for the body, Astronaut White for the legs, Re-entry Red for the saucer, and Galaxy Gold for the roof, the Space Needle was finished in less than one year. The last elevator car was installed the day before the Fair opened on April During the course of the Fair nearly 20, people a day rode the elevators to the Observation Deck. The 20, mark was never reached, missed by fewer than 50 people one day. Upon completion, the Space Needle was the tallest building in the western United States, replacing the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle as the tallest building west of the Mississippi since The revolving restaurant was operated by Western International Hotels , of which Carlson was President,  under a year contract from April 1, to April 1, An imitation carillon  using recordings of bells, rather than live bells was installed in the Space Needle, and played several times a day during the World's Fair.
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The instrument, built by the Schulmerich Bells Company of Hatfield, Pennsylvania  under the name "Carillon Americana," recreated the sounds of bells and was the largest in the world , until eclipsed by a bell instrument at the New York World's Fair. The operator's console was located in the base of the Space Needle, completely enclosed in glass to allow observation of the musician playing the instrument. It was also capable of being played from a roll, like a player piano. The forty-four stentors speakers of the carillon were located underneath the Needle's disc at the foot level, and were audible over the entire fairgrounds and up to ten miles away.
These studio recordings were performed by noted carilloneur John Klein In , author Stephen Cosgrove's children's book Wheedle on the Needle imagined a furry creature called a Wheedle who lived on top of the Space Needle and caused its light to flash. The Wheedle has since become a fixture of Seattle.
While this level had been part of the original plans for the Space Needle, it was not built until this time. Today, the SkyLine Banquet Facility can accommodate groups of 20— people. Renovations between and included the SkyCity restaurant, SpaceBase retail store, Skybeam installation, Observation Deck overhaul, lighting additions and repainting. Every year on New Year's Eve , the Space Needle celebrates with a fireworks show at midnight that is synchronized to music.
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The fireworks artist Alberto Navarro from Bellevue, designed the show for 20 years, since its inception in In , public celebrations were canceled because of perceived terror threats against the structure after investigations into the foiled millennium bombing plots , but the fireworks show was still performed. In May , the Space Needle received its first professional cleaning since the opening of the World's Fair. As part of the celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Needle was painted "Galaxy Gold" in April , the same color used when the needle was originally constructed for the World's Fair.
A renovation of the top of the Space Needle began in the summer of , to add an all-glass floor to the restaurant, and replace the observation platform windows with floor-to-ceiling glass panels to more closely match the original concept sketches, as well as upgrades and updates to the internal systems. The rotating restaurant's motor will be replaced, the elevator capacity will be increased by adding elevators, or double-stacking them, and the energy efficiency of the building will be improved with the aim of achieving LEED Silver Certification.