The Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park
Built for the 1982 World’s Fair (one of the last successful World’s Fairs), this iconic feature of the Knoxville skyline is the only structure of its kind. It is one of only two remaining structures from the historic 1982 World's Fair. It’s home to the Primo Ristorante Italiano on the 5th floor, event rental space and local businesses on the upper floors, as well as the 4th Floor Observation Deck which was recently remodeled and serves as a satellite visitors center. The Observation Deck features a gallery of Knoxville images, as well as information on Knoxville and the World’s Fair and offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Knoxville. The Observation Deck is open free to the public daily.
The Knoxville Sunsphere was built in 1981 and designed by the architecture firm, Community Tectonics as the theme structure for the 1982 World's Fair. Noted for its unique design in several engineering publications, the structure stands 266 feet high/26 stories tall. The 24-karat gold-dust filled, glass-paneled ball is 75 feet in diameter. It was renovated and restored in 2007.
The 4th Floor Observation Deck reopened on May 5th,2007 with a new look and feel based as a result of the efforts of Visit Knoxville in partnership with the City of Knoxville and the Public Building Authority. The Observation Deck features a gallery of Knoxville images as well as information on Knoxville and the World’s Fair and offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Knoxville. It is open free to the public daily and hours vary based on the season.
The Sunsphere has become an iconic representation and symbol of Knoxville being used in advertising, marketing, and logos.
- A band played atop the Sunsphere during opening ceremonies of the World’s Fair.
- A former Vol once zip-lined from the top of the Sunsphere.
- The Sunsphere was featured on The Simpsons television episode, "Bart on the Road" as the “Wigsphere”.
- During the time of the World's Fair, the tower color was blue torepresent the color of the sky. The current color of the tower is forest green.
- Each plane of glass is made with 24-karat gold giving the Sphere it's reflective gold color and each pane cost around $1,000 at the time of construction.
- The Sunsphere is featured in the logo for the Hard Knox Roller Girls women's flat-track roller derby league.
- The Sunsphere is incorporated into the standard design of Tennessee 's state-issued driver's license.
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