Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, Spaceship Earth
Walt Disney sketched the original design concept for Epcot Center, including Spaceship Earth. Disney wanted a unique structure that would be instantly recognizable around the world. The central figure of Disney’s Millennium 2000 celebration, Spaceship Earth has become the symbol that Walt Disney envisioned. While geodesic domes had previously been constructed, Spaceship Earth was the first large-scale complete geodesic sphere ever built. SGH was the structural engineering and prime consultant for the project.
As structural engineer, SGH designed the innovative structure for the 160 ft dia. steel-framed geodesic sphere supported by six columns and an internal tower. We selected standard rolled wide-flange members joined with simple stamped steel hubs to keep the construction simple and within budget limits.
As the building enclosure consultant, SGH designed a double-skinned outer covering that allows water to penetrate the composite-aluminum outer layer through open joints in the faceted aluminum panels, to be captured by an inner rubberized layer system, and to be directed into an internal gutter and drainage system to eliminate all exterior runoff.
SGH also engineered the ride-and-show support structure contained inside the sphere and designed the monorail station at the entrance, including the track structure, platforms, and access facilities.