2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Kirsten Davis


In 1962, Seattle, Washington was chosen to be the host of the World’s Fair with the theme of Space. Two Seattle businessmen named Edward Carlson and John Graham Jr. designed what would be the centerpiece of the 1962 World’s Fair. Edward Carlson was inspired by a trip that he took in 1959 to the Stuttgart Tower in Germany. The Stuttgart Tower was a German TV communication tower atop a large pole. Carlson doodled a sketch on a napkin that looked like a tethered balloon. Graham took this idea a step further and requested the restaurant on top to look like a flying UFO. The idea would portray the dedication of both the city of Seattle and the country as a whole to the space program by building a structure that resembles a UFO in the sky. Upon planning the project “Space Needle”, the design team realized there was not enough budget nor space to place the project. The project would cost 4.5 million dollars and needed at least 120 square feet for a base. There were many obstacles that needed to be addressed with this type of project, but ultimately they were successful. The Seattle Space Needle officially opened 8 months after the project construction began and was just in time for the World’s Fair on April 21, 1962.



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