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Mary Ellen

The Unisphere

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My brother in law used to work for Clarke & Rapuano and told me some interesting stories about the Unisphere. The original design which was later nixed called for the orb to rotate. This is news to me. I have the name of one of the guys that worked on the construction of it. I am going to write him and see if he has any great stuff to share with us.

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Those blueprints that we saw on eBay last week were dated 1962, and showed the same fixed base that ended up being installed.

If there was talk of having it rotate, it must have been very early in the concept development process.

All the stuff I've seen says it was a major engineering achievement which stretched the technology of the time, just to get the thing balanced on the pedestal in a fixed manner. I think I saw one reference that said from engineering standpoint it was like balancing a 747 on a stepstool.

If there was any talk of having the globe rotate, that was probably why it was discarded early on- it was far beyond the level of practicality for the early 60's.

Which brings us to the question- if they were designing a giant globe today, and they wanted to test the limits of early 21st Century technology, how would they "mount" it?

Mag-lev technology- float it over a magnetic field? (in theory you might be able to rotate it that way too)

Something else?

Randy

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I have a 1962 New York State tour guide. The inside of the back cover is devoted to the upcoming NYWF. There is a stylized drawing of the Unisphere. It is placed upon a large cylinder structure and surrounded by fountains which spray out from the cylinder shaped base.

I suspect, if that had been the basic structural design, rotating the Unisphere may not have been impossible for that time. After all, the restaurant portion of the Space Needle, built for the Century 21 Exposition, rotates. Wouldn't it have been possible to have done something similar to make the Unisphere rotate? I remember reading (and I think the Seattle Center website states this as well) that it is a very small motor which allows that huge upper portion of the Space Needle to rotate.

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The Los Angeles Airport Theme Building (1961) has a rotating restaurant.

By the way this restaurant (now called "The Encounter" Restaurant) was renovated with a new space age interior and spectacular exterior lighting designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, and re-opened in January 1997. The renovation of the restaurant and its lighting was completed at a cost of $4 million.

theme2.jpg

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1959 architect's rendering

LAX_Theme_1959_10cm.JPG

New Disney lighting system (it changes colors)

LAX_Theme_02_10cm.JPG

cax-fe1.jpg

[This message has been edited by c318137 (edited 06-18-2003).]

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Don't want to beat the LAX building drum too much, but you gotta see this picture of the newly remodeled-by-Disney interior of the revolving restaurant.

Described as follows:

Encounter is a gleaming combination of swirling stainless steel, metallic paint and dichromatic glass.

cax-fi1.jpg

Makes you want to fly in to L.A. just to check it out, huh? smile.gif

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Just think what Disney could do if somebody unleashed them on the NYS Pavilion and the Port Authority heliport building, with a "healthy" checkbook...

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Well, LAX Theme Center/Encounters is just unbelievable! I've spouted off about it many times here. Welton Beckett organization (GE Progressland) was involved in the design. Space Age, Modern, Populuxe, Googie mecca!

I don't think it (rotates) (ever rotated). Never did when I was there, anyway.

But I'm open to evidence of the contrary....

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Originally posted by Mike Kraus:

I don't think it (rotates) (ever rotated). Never did when I was there, anyway.

But I'm open to evidence of the contrary....

Hah! You're right- I found it on the web:

"It is a national landmark, but contrary to rumors doesn't revolve."

Here are some more tantalizing photos:

lax%20encounters-1.jpglax%20encounters-3.jpg

lax%20encounters-5.jpg

lax%20encounters-6.jpglax%20encounters-7.jpg

lax%20encounters-8.jpglax%20encounters-10.jpg

Here's a nice article on how the remodel was done, and descriptions of things like fiberglass moon-rock walls.

http://www.theaustin.com/html/up-ca_one_se...vices_inc_.html

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The Encounter Restaurant has:

amoeba-shaped lighting structures embedded in the ceilings, moon-stone quarry walls, customized lava lamps, and a unique crater-shaped bar with opalescent surfaces and bar guns that emit laser lights and futuristic sound effects when bartenders pour a drink.

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You get on the elevator, press the button, the car starts rising, and this weird googie alien music starts playing. The whole place is just fantastic!

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This is an undated drawing of the rotating Unisphere from the Clarke Rapuano archives. There are several blueprints that show a rotating sphere and orbiting satellite drawn in 1960-62.

post-5807-0-43139000-1391707169_thumb.jp

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http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/EAD/htmldocs/RMM03047.html

I have yet to see an American Bridge blueprint. They claim to have no archive of materials which seems bizarre for a huge American company but I have been told that they were bought out several times over. The Clarke Rapuano blueprints show their early design with the bands around the equator and tropics.

For a 3D model the best I have seen is Chronoleap's. I believe it was done from photos.

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Dan, I have found that many companies have little or no archives. They don't want to pay to store it, plus they want to limit their discovery costs and liabilities in any lawsuits. Sad.

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Dan, I have found that many companies have little or no archives. They don't want to pay to store it, plus they want to limit their discovery costs and liabilities in any lawsuits. Sad.

I've worked for several civil engineering firms in my 25 years as a drafter. After a while, all that paper becomes impossible to store. I guess once something's been in place long enough, there's no need to keep the plans.

Funny how on TV shows, they seem to be able to call up the blueprints for anything at the drop of a hat.

On 24 it would be:

Jack - Chloe, get me the design plans for the Unisphere right away!

Chloe - Got 'em right here, Jack!

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Stig, that is one of my pet peeves abut detective type shows. Every blueprint for every building all online instantly. All well indexed, excellent scans, even for the most insignificant structure. Dumb!

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Stig, that is one of my pet peeves abut detective type shows. Every blueprint for every building all online instantly. All well indexed, excellent scans, even for the most insignificant structure. Dumb!

That, and when they take a grainy picture from a surveillance camera and then just say "Enhance!" at the computer. Suddenly, that one megapixel photo is full 1080p.

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Yes, that is another good example. Or how about when the decide to run DNA for the most minor crime, get the results immediately, and inevitably get a hit?

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I was in touch years ago with American Bridge and I was able to talk to an old timer who said he would do some investigating. I thought it was a brush off, but in two weeks this great guy sent me copy's of the original prints of the Uni. I posted them years ago.... Johnny

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I was in touch years ago with American Bridge and I was able to talk to an old timer who said he would do some investigating. I thought it was a brush off, but in two weeks this great guy sent me copy's of the original prints of the Uni. I posted them years ago.... Johnny

I searched the site for them, but couldn't find them.

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