Sunsphere window shatters in bar accident

7:10 PM, Jun 28, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR-Knoxville) The iconic Sunsphere is known for its gold-dusted glass. Now, a giant slab of it will have to come out after an accident on the 5th floor.

The owner of the Icon Ultra Lounge said early Sunday morning, a customer tripped when another man was walking by, and fell into a table, which then crashed into the glass, shattering it.

"Looking at his receipt, not a lot of alcohol was consumed. Very minimal for the two hour period of time," said Tony Cappiello.

The glass structure is double layered, and it was the inside pane that cracked.

"Not the gold dust pane, which is actually very expensive and my understanding is that the company is out of business. This was built in 1981 for the 1982 World's Fair," said Cappiello.

Maintenance crews with the Public Building Authority said it will be a month before the slab of glass can be repaired, since it is difficult to find.

"If you think of the Sunsphere obviously as a globe, I like to say we're one floor below the equator," said Cappiello. "So you have not only a curvature down but a curvature around. And so It's not the easiest thing to fabricate, from what I understand."

The PBA said both layers of glass will have to be removed, since there is a factory seal that will need to be replaced. The repairs are expected to take eight hours, during which an area below the Sunsphere will be blocked off in case glass falls during construction.

Capiello said Icon Ultra Lounge will close for a couple of weeks during construction so crews can also do some interior upgrades to the facility.

The bar was closed on Thursday, but reopened Friday night.

No one was hurt.

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