Glass Nautilus

by Greg Varney, P.E., Proj. Mgr.; KPFF Consulting Engrs., Seattle, WA,
Todd St. George, Proj. Engr.; KPFF Consulting Engrs., Seattle, WA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 8, Pg. 34-39

Document Type: Feature article


A multi-faceted glass and steel pavilion now adds an extra measure of enjoyment and convenience for visitors to Seattle's Space Needle. The new two-story, 15,000-square-foot building replaces the former retail, ticketing, and lobby facilities at the base. It's possible to think of the building as a freestanding atrium, almost completely transparent from inside and out. One of three legs of the tower stands entirely exposed. The other two rise from outdoor spaces surrounded by the glass walls of the pavilion, dramatically visible from the interior floor and ramp and from points outside the building. There are few vertical walls. The exterior wall angles outward, affording passers-by the best views through the interior of the building. To keep the outer walls of the pavilion free of columns, the ramp is cantilevered out from the plaza area just outside the base and inside the glass walls of the pavilion. A moment connection frame (Vierendeel truss) spans between major structural bents. Braced frames supporting the ramp inside the perimeter of the Space Needle base also provide lateral stability for the whole structure.

Subject Headings: Glass | Buildings | Walls | Retaining structures | Space frames | Space colonies | Urban areas

Services: Buy this book/Buy this article


Return to search