Painting Begins for Space Needle 60th Anniversary

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2022

In honor of its 60th anniversary, the Seattle Space Needle hosted a contest for five grand prize winners to help paint the roof of the landmark its original color—nearly 600 feet in the air.

"Getting a chance to paint the roof of the Space Needle is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Karen Olson, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at the Space Needle.

"Seattleites have come to love the original Galaxy Gold color atop the Space Needle when we mark a big anniversary, and we’re thrilled to show off the special paint job to the world for the next 12 months as we celebrate 60 years of defining the Seattle skyline." 

Space Needle History

The Space Needle was built for the World’s Fair and held its grand opening on April 21, 1962. The theme, “The Age of Space,” inspired the tower’s futuristic design with the structure symbolizing humanity’s Space Age aspirations.

The original design was doodled on a napkin in a hotel café by Seattle hotel executive Edward E. Carlson in 1959. Architect John “Jack” Graham, Jr., helped with subsequent sketches and ideas before creating the final design.

The basic tower was completed in December 1961 and, in keeping with the space theme, the final coats of paint were dubbed “Astronaut White” for the legs, “Orbital Olive” for the core of the structure, “Re-entry Red” for the Halo and “Galaxy Gold” for the sunburst and pagoda roof. The structure’s chief engineer, John Minasian, also designed rocket gantries for NASA.

In April 1999, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board named the Space Needle an official City of Seattle Landmark. The landmark, located at Seattle Center, stands at 605 feet tall and is reportedly one of the most photographed structures in the world with over 60 million visitors.

“The Space Needle marks a point in history of the City of Seattle and represents American aspirations towards technological prowess,” wrote the Board in its Report on Designation. “[It] embodies in its form and construction the era’s belief in commerce, technology and progress.”

A $20 million revitalization project was completed in 2000, including construction of the Pavilion Level, SpaceBase retail store, SkyCity restaurant, Observation Deck improvements, exterior lighting additions, exterior painting and more. In comparison, the structure was originally built for $4.5 million in 1962.

A larger $100 million renovation, “The Century Project” or “Spacelift,” was launched in September 2017, aiming to reveal the tower’s internal structure and harken back to the original conceptual sketches, all while expanding and improving its views. The deck reopened in 2018.

Celebrating 60 Contest

As part of the Space Needle’s year-long celebration, the roof of the structure will be painted its original “Galaxy Gold” color. Event organizers announced a contest last week for Washington residents to win the chance to paint the roof.

To enter, applicants 21 years or older needed to share their favorite Space Needle memory, be a legal resident of the State of Washington and be available on the event date. Five grand prize winners were selected to help paint the roof as part of the anniversary event.

Additionally, 55 other winners were randomly selected to receive other prizes, including VIP package to experience The Loupe Lounge, Space Needle tickets, Chihuly Garden and Glass admission and Seattle International Film Festival passes.

Contest entries closed on Sunday, April 17, and the winners have reportedly been selected and notified. Contest winners are expected to begin painting on Friday, while crews have started painting the Space Needle as of Wednesday in preparation.


Tagged categories: Coatings; Color; Color + Design; Contests; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance coating work; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Paint; Program/Project Management

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