A Surrey based engineering firm has reached for the sky, with their first ever export installation in the USA.

The Space Needle, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and a treasured Seattle icon, commissioned a UK Sesame Access ‘invisible lift’.

The specification was for a high quality but unobtrusive wheelchair access lift, to transport wheelchair users 900mm within the viewing platform. The Sesame stairlift was installed and commissioned in August 2018.

Sesame’s five step vertically retracting lift was installed as part of Space Needle’s $100m renovations called a ‘Space Lift’. During the renovations, the 360 degree observation deck, which stand an impressive 158m in the Seattle sky, was given a complete refurbishment. This included the world’s first and only 360 degree glass rotating floor located 152m above ground.

Sesame Access lift at The Space Needle, Seattle

The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World Fair whose theme was “The Age of Space”. The design was reportedly sketched out on a napkin during a lunch, with the idea to have a space like restaurant floating in the sky. To reflect the forward-thinking spirit of Seattle and to symbolize humanity’s Space Age aspirations.

Sesame’s invisible wheelchair lift was designed bespoke for the Space Needle. The Client required lit glass stair risers and bespoke handrails included in the design. Sesame travelled to Seattle to meet the Client and Architects to develop and agree the design. The bespoke lift was manufactured in Sesame’s workshop in Surrey and then airfreighted to Seattle. Sesame engineers then flew to Seattle to install and commissioned the lift.


This project was Sesame’s first installation the USA. Significant work was required by Sesame to ensure the lift complied USA American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 18.1 and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Parts of the lift were also certified to comply with USA’s Underwriters Liability (UL).

With its first lift successfully installed in Seattle, Sesame is excited about opening a sales office in the US to work with US clients interested in Sesame's bespoke lift solutions.

Seattle Space Needle said:

“We are proud to be the first organization in the United States to implement Sesame Access’ award-winning invisible lift technology,” said Space Needle Chief Marketing Officer Karen Olson. “Making the Space Needle more accessible for all of our visitors continues to be a top priority for our organization, and partnering with Sesame helps ensure that we continue to find innovative solutions to accessibility.”

Steven Lyons, Managing Director, said

“I am really pleased we have now installed our wheelchair lifts in USA. It’s is challenging to make a lift which complies to the USA market. The USA Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) are very thorough and quite rightly have strong controls on what the product looks like. But now we have had our first Sesame invisible lift fully certified and installed, this now opens the doors for future exports all over the USA. We thank Department of International Trade (DIT) and the British Government for helping us export to USA and also supporting our Research and Development of this important product”.

Alison Lyons, Director of Commercial Development, said

"Sesame has increased its exports over recent years, mainly due to the incredible support of our Department of International Trade (DIT) (SE Team) advisor Andrew Mapstone. Andrew has taken time to understand our business, signposted us to key export events and has given us invaluable advice and encouragement over the years. We have discovered exporting is much easier than we originally thought. in my role at Sesame, I am proud to be a DIT Export Champion 2019. If we can, you can".

Jason Klor, Vice President of Operations, USA, said: "We're getting great feedback from potential clients who appreciate that we can offer a solution for ADA access where it's not feasible otherwise."


Sesame Access Systems Ltd design, build and install bespoke wheelchair lifts all over the world. Clients include Sydney Opera House, Qatar National Library and Kensington Palace. Each wheelchair lift is designed bespoke to the property, so Sesame lifts can overcome specific challenges in buildings. Sesame’s award winning wheelchair lift for Listed Buildings are pushing the boundaries of engineering innovation. Sesame won The Queens Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2016. Alison Lyons at Sesame is a 2019 Export Champion for the British Government.

Enquiries to alisonl@sesameaccess.comwww.sesameaccess.com

Alison Lyons