The world’s first and only revolving glass floor is now suspended and spinning – slowly – at the 500-foot level of Seattle’s iconic, 605-foot-tall space-age inspired Space Needle.
Dubbed “The Loupe” (a reference to the magnifying devices jewelers and watchmakers use), the Space Needle’s rotating glass floor is located just below the open-air observation deck and replaces the original (nonglass) revolving floor that was a feature of the Space Needle’s restaurant when it first opened at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.
Visitors can walk, stand, sit or stretch out on the new floor and look down on the Space Needle’s architecture, the elevators and the elevator counterweights, the Seattle Center campus (an urban park with several museums and other attractions) and the city.
The mechanics of the rotating glass floor – or turntable – are also visible and include 12 motors and 48 rollers that can complete a rotation in varying lengths of time, from a quick 20 minutes to a glacial 90 minutes in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
“The original revolving floor in the restaurant went clockwise for one rotation in 47 minutes,” said Karen Olson, chief marketing officer for the Space Needle, “So we’re going to start this with one clockwise rotation every 45 minutes and see if we need to adjust it from there.”
In May, the Space Needle marked another milestone in its $100 million makeover, with the unveiling of the first batch of specially slanted clear glass benches on the outdoor Observation Deck at the 520-foot level.
Now all 24 benches, dubbed “Skyrisers,” are attached to some of the viewing deck’s newly installed 11-foot-tall glass windows and invite visitors to lean back and snap selfies that will make them appear to be floating out over the landscape.
Over the past year, while the Observation Deck remained open to the public, construction workers replaced the view-obstructing but structurally necessary half-wall and caging installed when the 605-foot-tall Space Needle was built — in just 400 days — as a centerpiece for the World’s Fair held in Seattle in 1962.
“We needed to update some of the aging mechanical and electrical systems in this 56-year-old building originally designed to look like a flying saucer on a stick,” Olson said. “And we figured, while we’re up there, let’s update the experience and expand the view.”
Seattle-based design firm Olson Kundig, the project architect, maintained the landmark features of the building while significantly opening up the Observation Deck view with 48 floor-to-ceiling glass windows that are each 7 feet wide and 11 feet high.
The group also added direct viewing lines to the outside for everyone who steps off the elevator, a state-of-the art ADA lift that (finally) makes the outdoor deck fully accessible, an indoor café and the newly unveiled inclined glass “Skyrisers” that will make a trip to the top of the Space Needle super selfie-worthy.
More on the world’s first rotating glass floor
When the Space Needle opened at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, it featured a rotating restaurant on the 500-foot level, just below the Observation Deck, that operated on a turntable powered first by a 1-horsepower and, later, a 1.5-horsepower motor. (While novel, it wasn’t the world’s first rotating restaurant. That honor goes to a restaurant that operated in the Ala Moana shopping mall in Hawaii.)
Over the years there have been three different restaurant concepts in the rotating space, and this fall plans for the fourth restaurant will be announced. For now, there’s a wine bar.
Inspired by the (nonrotating) glass floor the Eiffel Tower opened in 2014 and by the glass floors at Chicago’s Willis Tower and the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the rotating glass floor at the Space Needle offers visitors a view down at the fountain, the green spaces and museums on the 74-acre Seattle Center grounds.
Planning a visit
Admission to the Space Needle’s upper and lower observation decks ranges by time of day from $27.50 to $37.50 for adults, with discounts for seniors and kids. Discounted admission may be available with bundled attraction passes or some auto club and other organization memberships.
When to go: More than 1.3 million people visit the Space Needle each year, and lines can be especially long during the busy summer tourist season. Consider purchasing a timed-entry ticket online and visiting first thing in the morning or at the end of the evening. Summer hours: 8 a.m. to midnight.
To get a unique view of the iconic 605-foot-tall Space Needle, plan a visit to the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle. At nearly 1,000 feet, the observatory is the tallest public viewing area in the Pacific Northwest.