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BrandSafway Wins Scaffold Award for Space Needle

Monday, October 21, 2019

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Access company BrandSafway was awarded the 2019 Access Project of the Year — Mast Climbing Work Platforms, Transport Platforms and Hoists at the Access, Lift and Handlers Conference last month in San Diego.

The company won for its platform and barrier solution for the $100 million renovation of Seattle’s Space Needle.

The Project

The Space Needle—originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair—underwent its third major renovation, which is its largest to date, in 2017. The structure’s interior was updated, which included replacing the interior walls, doors and window supports with glass panels and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

Karen Olson, the Space Needle’s Chief Marketing Officer, said after the completion that it was a “world’s first,” referring to the glass-floor observation deck that will now allow people to see the gears and motors that are powering the floor’s rotation.


Access company BrandSafway was awarded the 2019 Access Project of the Year — Mast Climbing Work Platforms, Transport Platforms and Hoists at the Access, Lift and Handlers Conference last month in San Diego.

Other new additions included a circular, glass-floored stairway with steel and glass supports that allow guests to move among the three levels of the deck—an option that wasn’t available before.

Glass open-air barriers and glass benches are now affixed to the outer deck, and perhaps the most noticeable change is the replacement of the old steel deck cage that surrounded the space.

Now, observers will be surrounded by 48 glass panels, giving them a completely unobstructed view of the city from 520 feet up. The entire redesign used 10 different types of glass equaling more than 176 tons. The project is aiming for a LEED Silver certification.

“The Space Needle represented a feat of engineering, pointing the way toward the future with a sense of optimism and possibility that has come to define the spirit of Seattle,” said Design Principal Alan Maskin, of Seattle-based Olson Kundig.

The project was funded by the Wright family, which owns the structure. In addition to Olson Kundig and BrandSafway, Space Needle LLC is working with Tihany Design, Fives Lunc LLC, Arup, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Hoffman Construction, O-Brien & Company, Front Inc., Apex Steel, Herzog Glass and Breedt Production Tooling & Design, in addition to the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.


Safway’s unique scaffolding went up in the fall of 2017, when—at night—a crew of 25 people raised the 28,000-pound, 106-foot-diameter platform (a QuikDeck Suspended Access System, which is usually used for bridges) 400 feet into the air with 12 two-part Tractel hoists, each with an 8,800-pound capacity. A dozen operators were on top of the donut-shaped platform as it rose in the air to see it chained in place.

After the scaffolding was hoisted and secured and fully built to its full size of 135 feet in diameter at a weight of 174,000 pounds, crews took another two weeks to enclose it and erected an all-season weather barrier, using Systems Scaffold and HAKI, which could withstand a 115 mph wind load, allowing workers to remain in operation throughout Seattle’s weather patterns, including the replacement of the observation deck piece by piece.

Award Comments

“The circular suspended access system, installed by BrandSafway for the renovation of Seattle’s Space Needle, was the highest, most weather protected suspended platform ever constructed,” one of the award judges commented.

“It was a really cool project, taking a lot of engineering, a lot of thought, and expert management to make it happen.”

“The ALH award recognizes our engineering team’s ability to work hand-in-hand with our customers and third-party engineers to design solutions for the most extreme challenges—all while keeping safety first,” said Art Eunson, president of BrandSafway Services.


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; BrandSafway; Completed projects; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Scaffolding

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