The architecture of the Space Needle: embodying Space Age aspirations
By organising World Expo 1962 – which opened to the public 60 years ago this month – Seattle, then a small, globally obscure port city in the far northwest corner of the continental United States, sought to put itself on the map as an ambitious, tech-oriented city with its eye on the future. It wanted to brand itself as a “launch pad” for the Space Age and provide hope in the Cold War era. The Century 21 Exposition was architecturally ambitious, seeking to create a permanent landmark that would, like the Eiffel Tower, create an instantly recognisable symbol. The result was the Space Needle, a futuristic 184-metre-tall observation tower. The goal was to showcase the scenic beauty of the region, symbolise and dramatise Space Age architecture with its “flying saucer” motif, and prove commercially viable with the first free-standing revolving restaurant in the world.