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How experts turned down the noise at the Space Needle

Back in 2017, architects laid out their dream design for the Space Needle’s $100 million renovation project, featuring a sleek, modernistic interior, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, glass benches and a glass floor that would make a complete turn around the needle’s axis every 45 minutes.

But for Daniel Bruck, the president of Seattle-based BRC Acoustics & Audiovisual Design, there was a chance that the dream could turn into a noisy nightmare.

“That was a very interesting challenge for us,” he said today at a news conference during the Acoustical Society of America’s Seattle meeting.

Out went the sound-deadening carpet and plush furniture in the restaurant of the 605-foot-tall Seattle landmark — a holdover from the 1962 World’s Fair attended by millions of visitors, including Elvis Presley. In came sound-reflecting floors, ceilings and walls that had the potential to raise the decibel level to rockabilly proportions.

And as if that wasn’t enough cause for worry, the steel-on-steel gearwork that set the floor revolving could have introduced a whole new source of mechanical noise.

Bruck acknowledged that the renovated space has a “clean and elegant” look. “But from an acoustical standpoint, it didn’t give us a whole lot to work with,” he said.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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