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SEATTLE – There’s one member of the Credit Union Times’ team who will always have a soft spot in his heart for Seattle’s most famous building, the Space Needle. Credit Union Times’ Advertising Representative Jim Oestmann’s uncle, John Graham, was one of the lead architects and at one time a part owner of the Space Needle. “My aunt has always given us an insider’s perspective into what it took to make the Space Needle a reality,” said Oestmann. Graham had already had experience with what some of the Space Needle’s collaboraters were looking for – a revolving restaurant. Graham was part of a team that designed a revolving restaurant in Hawaii. The Space Needle of course has two revolving restaurants that sit 500 feet in the air and make one revolution every 58 minutes. Oestmann’s aunt, Marjorie Graham, circulated a letter among the family a few years back that documented how the Space Needle came about and just how integral a role her husband John played in its creation. “Since it occurred in our living room on Queen Anne Hill, I heard Eddie Carlson (a famous hotel exec) ask my husband how much it would cost to take that revolving restaurant idea of his on top of the 1441 Kapiolani Building in Honolulu (designed by John Ridley) and put it up on a tower….” wrote Graham. One thing it was going to take was money, about $3.5 million up front, and everyone had to pitch in, even her husband. “A short time later, Eddie met with Jack in his office to suggest that since he had said the idea would cost $3.5 million dollars, with $1 million needed `up front,’ he had come to announce that Norton Clapp would put up a quarter of a million, and Ned Skinner and Bagley Wright would each take `a piece’ – all that would be needed was for Graham (architect) and Howard Wright (builder) to put up the other quarter million,” she wrote. The rest as they say is history. The group managed to get the money together and when it was all said and done the final price tag was approximately $4.5 million. Dubbed a landmark just a few years ago, the Space Needle is Seattle’s most famous and eye-catching structure. It opened on April 21, 1962 for the Seattle’s World Fair. Incredibly, this futuristic structure was designed and built in just 400 days. It stands 605 feet tall and at its top is approximately 730 feet above sea level. From top to bottom there are 832 steps. There are three glass elevators that can carry 30 passengers, with an average elevator trip of 43 seconds. There are two restaurants on the revolving 500 foot level – the Space Needle Restaurant and the Emerald Suite. There’s a third restaurant – the Skyline Banquet – at the 100 foot level. To get an understanding of what went into building the Space Needle, it took approximately 470 cement trucks 12 continuous hours to pour the 5,850 tons of concrete and 250 tons of rebar to form the structure’s base. For those NAFCU visitors who make it up to the Space Needle, don’t worry about Mother Nature. It has 24 lightning rods to take care of lightning, and it was built to withstand earthquakes and 100-MPH winds, something it’s been withstanding for over 40 years! The Space Needle was just one of many large and well-known structure’s Graham designed. A few others that his firm John Graham & Associates designed include the 536-foot Union Bank of California Center; the 563-foot 44 Montgomery building in San Francisco; the 449-foot Westin Hotel North Tower in Seattle; and the 300-foot Ala Moana Building in Honolulu, among others. [email protected]

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