Wednesday, May 21, 2008
History of the Sunsphere
Knoxville Journal Article: November 1980
Concept Drawings 1979
The Sunsphere is an 81.07 m (266-foot) high hexagonal steel truss structure, topped with a 23m (74-foot) bronze glass-plated sphere. It is the most distinctive structure on the Knoxville, Tennessee skyline.
Designed by the Knoxville architectural firm Community Tectonics, the Sunsphere was created as the theme structure for the 1982 World's Fair. It was noted for its unique design in several engineering publications. Today, most of the World's Fair site is a public park and a convention center, but the Sunsphere itself shows no sign of going away.
Knoxville’s Skyline is brought to life by our own shining star.
In its original design, the sphere portion was to have had a diameter of 86.5 feet to symbolically represent the 865,000-mile diameter sun. The tower's window glass panels are layered in 24-karat gold dust and cut to seven different shapes. It weighs 600 tons and features six double steel truss columns in supporting the seven story sphere. The tower has a volume of 203,689 cubic feet and a surface of 16,742 square feet.
During the fair it cost $2 to take the elevator to its observation deck. The tower served as a restaurant and featured items such as the Sunburger and a drink called the Sunburst. It was then painted blue but has since been repainted forest green.
In the early morning hours on May 12, 1982, a shot was fired from outside the fair site and shattered one of the sphere's windows.
The Sunsphere has been used as a symbol for Knoxville, appearing in postcards and logos. Between 1993 and 1999, the Sunsphere was featured in part on the logo for the Knoxville Smokies minor league baseball club. The 2002 AAU Junior Olympics mascot Spherit took its inspiration from the landmark and it featured red hair and a body shaped like the Sunsphere.
In October 1987, the sphere was illuminated to represent a huge jack-o-lantern. On Sunday, May 15, 2000, nuclear weapons protesters scaled the tower and hung a large banner that said "Stop the Bombs." They remained on the tower for three days before surrendering to police on Tuesday, May 17, 2000.
The Sunsphere has been used as a symbol for Knoxville, appearing in postcards and logos. Between 1993 and 1999, the Sunsphere was featured in part on the logo for the Knoxville Smokies minor league baseball club. The 2002 AAU Junior Olympics mascot Spherit took its inspiration from the landmark and it featured red hair and a body shaped like the Sunsphere. In October 1987, the sphere was illuminated to represent a huge jack-o-lantern. On Sunday, May 15, 2000, nuclear weapons protesters scaled the tower and hung a large banner that said "Stop the Bombs." They remained on the tower for three days before surrendering to police on Tuesday, May 17, 2000.
Sunsphere Floor Plans: Property plans and all levels.
The 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere glowing on the horizon.
As a result of migrating American starlings leaving too much guano on the towers frame, in 2003, the Knoxville Public Buildings Authority purchased from Avian Systems Corporation a device that emits various noises to scare the birds away from the tower.
All information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Although the Sunsphere is the most recognized feature of the Knoxville cityscape, it has remained vacant for most of its post-fair life, being used from 1992 to 1997 as the Knoxville Welcome Center. Various proposals have been submitted to the city from time-to-time for its redevelopment. Many argue its relevancy as a tall structure, because it was built in one of the lowest parts of the city.
In March 1991 officials from the Pensacola Tornados of the Continental Basketball Association were looking at Knoxville for possible location and said of the Sunsphere as potential office space, "What better place for basketball offices than a giant gold basketball in the sky."
A pair of failed proposals was presented to the World's Fair Park Development Committee on March 31, 1994, that sought to reopen the Sunsphere as a restaurant (similar to Dallas' Reunion Tower, which features a restaurant at the top of the tower). These proposals included:
* The proposal from CEB Enterprises would have opened a casual dining restaurant called World's Fare Restaurant.
* The proposal from Cierra Restaurant Group would have opened a fine dining restaurant.
The Sunsphere is proposed to be included as part of the newly constructed Knoxville Convention Center, but those plans never fully materialized. Instead, during construction of the Knoxville Convention Center, it served as the contractors office for parties involved in the construction of the center.
Kinsey Probasco Hays of Chattanooga propose reopening the tower complete with a renovated restaurant, snack bar, office space and a public observation deck.
The 25th Anniversary of the Fair is here. Recent articles point that it will be reopened this year. The Level 4 (Fair Observation Level) will be reopened to give visitors a view of Knoxville. Level 5 (Private Dinning Room & Kitchen) will now become a new cafe with sandwich and drinks service and an early evening drinks service. Level 6 (Main Restaurant Level) will be an open space leased out for functions. Level 7 (Upper Restaurant level) & Level 8 (Mountain View Observation Level) will become the offices for the Knoxville magazine Metro Pulse