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Randy Treadway

Seattle Construction Photos - 1961

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Okay, I can't decide whether the graceful legs of the Space Needle have any curves in them or if they're all made up of straight members. I'm thinking that they're all straight pieces, but the curve at the "waist" is amazingly smooth. thoughts?

What pavilion is being built with the cable suspension roof? I wonder what material the panels are, and how big that roof was? I thought NYS Tent of Tomorrow was the first cable suspension roof, but I guess it was the largest at the time, not the first.

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The building with the suspension roof is the Washington State Arena. It's still there are the Keyspan Arena.

I think some of the Space Needle sections do have a curve to them. I just got a load of newspaper stories in today about the construction and will get them online shortly.

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I like the photo taken from inside the Washington State Arena or Coliseum. It gives a very clear idea of the cable suspension roof system. Still a beautiful building to this day.

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I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to have lived in Seattle during those years. There, in the heart of the city, a world's fair was taking on a life of its own. And the Space Needle is such an impressive structure even today. Its construction must have been breathtaking.

I would bet there was a similar excitment in Montreal as their exposition took shape in the St. Lawrence. It was right there and on display.

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The Coliseum, now Key Arena after former local Key Bank, did indeed have a cable roof, but unlike the NYWF's cable roof, it wasn't ALL supported from the sides. The Coliseum has four diagonal concrete roof trusses, which end in three-legged supports with a sort of "ramp" on the central one (I loved to climb these ramps as a kid) on each side. The entire roof is held up by these, and by the glass walls around the sides. The roof between these trusses and the side walls, four sections of it, has cables and (I believe aluminum) panels. It's hard to see now, with an interior structure added.

For those who don't know, during the Fair the Coliseum held an exhibit about the possibilities of the future and of progress - good and bad - ending with some subtle warnings about nuclear war. The exhibit was housed in a gigantic 'cloud' made of hundreds of cubes, supported on poles. While the exit was just a spiral ramp, entrance was by the famous Bubbleator, a very large, spherical plastic elevator, which rode on a single post support. The Bubbleator was later moved to the ex-Armory, now "Food Circus" (basically an early food court). After a while there, a conventional elevator was installed, and the Bubbleator was sold off for scrap-- except it wasn't BOUGHT for scrap. It's now in the front yard of a private home in Auburn, WA, saved by some or other Fair enthusiast, and is doing duty as a small greenhouse.

The Seattle Fair is unusual in that many buildings built for the fair stayed afterward. Some of those, like the Science Pavilion, Space Needle, Coliseum and theatres, were meant to be permanent, but I can think of at least nine "temporary" structures (including the ground level area of the Space Needle) which were still around in the 80s when I was a kid. These days, with the old Flag Pavilion building and Hawai'i Pavilion gone and the Space Needle's base building replaced, I know of four temporary buildings which are still up and. The Fairgrounds also retain most of the fountains (though the major one was rebuilt in the 90s), many of the decorative sculptural reliefs, and one of the neon sculptures from the Fair.

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Okay, I can't decide whether the graceful legs of the Space Needle have any curves in them or if they're all made up of straight members. I'm thinking that they're all straight pieces, but the curve at the "waist" is amazingly smooth. thoughts?

Doug,

I had a quick business trip to Seattle on Tuesday. Hadn't been there in 40 years (almost to the day) so I took a quick detour to the Space Needle. There is an exhibit at the top about the construction and the politics of getting it built. The girders are indeed curved. The firm that built it had developed a method of straightening girders that had been deformed in fires. The used the same method in reverse by heating the girders and forcing them through giant rollers to get just the right bend.

They are in the process of painting and sprucing up the needle for it's 50th birthday next year.

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Besides painting it, are they doing anything to celebrate the World's Fair?

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The city is supposed to be hosting a summer long celebration. I flew up to Seattle in January and met with them about it, but things sort of fizzled out. They wanted me to make an outright donation of my collection to them for their use. I politely declined and said that while I would be glad to loan them things or let them use some photos I wasn't prepared to give my entire collection away at this stage. I contacted them again in June but they appear to want all or nothing. I decided to vote for nothing, and have stopped tracking whatever they do up there at this stage.

Bill

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DONATE a collection? Oy. That's a little much. Shame... something as monumental as the Space Needle should be commemorated.

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It might be appropriate to "suggest" you donate your collection or that you "remember them in your will" but to demand you hand it over lock, stock and barrel is a little much. Their loss.

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