The Sunsphere Holds Open Ball (That’s Open House for a Sphere)

Sunsphere, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, March 2011

I had not been to the upper reaches of the Sunsphere since sometime in the late 1980’s. I’ll be honest and say that I remember being unimpressed and wishing the thing hadn’t been built in a hole. Just think of the views from a Sunsphere on a ridge. Still, that was the decision and it doesn’t seem like a candidate for moving, so it’s what we’ve got.

Convention Center, World’s Fair Park, Church Street UMC, TN River
Fort Sanders from the Sunsphere

This is not to say I wasn’t excited about the chance to explore it once more. I really was. Free food, drink and music is also a good incentive for a local blogger, and that was promised in the publicity, so I took the short walk. And the very slow elevator ride. This has to be the slowest elevator in Knoxville. Still, the ride was smooth and it didn’t drop me, so I didn’t complain.

Sixth Floor Crowds enjoy art, food and drinks in the Sunsphere.

Sixth Floor, Sunsphere, Knoxville, March 2011

The fifth and sixth floors were open to the public and are now available for events through Sara Spangler of Prolific Living. According to their Facebook page, the fifth floor is suitable for groups of up to fifty and the sixth floor is available for groups as large as 250. There is a tremendous difference between the two, with the sixth floor being open all the way around and the fifth floor only part of the way around.

Todd Steed and Ampient Sound, Fifth Floor Sunsphere, Knoxville

The Open House was very nice, with catered food offered from tables and by servers who circulated among the crowd. Todd Steed and his latest project, “Ampient Sound” played on the fifth floor. I have to say this is my favorite Steed incarnation. The idea is to play unplanned sounds on several guitars at a very low volume. The music is entirely improvised, often distorted and intended to set the atmosphere, not to be a focal point in itself. I could make it a focal point pretty easily. It’s exciting to hear what might happen next. They play Java Old City the first Wednesday night of each month, so I may try to catch them there and give you more detail.

Southern side of Downtown Knoxville

The views were better than I had remembered. Getting a photograph with the curve and outward angle of the thick glass and the reflection of light from outside and inside proves more of a challenge than I’m prepared to meet, but I did my best. We also saw friends and met a new one – a very sweet lady who was curious about a building she could see in the city. It turned out to be our building, so we were able to tell her all about it.

North side of downtown Knoxville as seen from the Sunsphere, March 2011.
An easy ride down and we were on our way. I’d enjoy attending a party there. It also seems like a great spot for conference guests who want to have a smaller reception away from the crowds in the Convention Center. So, plan a party. Have great food, drink and Ampient Sound and invite me!