A revolving restaurant is a restaurant which is usually located at the top of a tall structure, and which is built on a turntable that causes it to slowly rotate, offering diners a panoramic view of the area below. The first revolving restaurant was built in Hawaii in 1961, and similar restaurants sprang up throughout the US and other Western nations in the decades that followed. While Western enthusiasm for these restaurants dwindled in the late 20th century, around the same period they began to enjoy popularity in parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. In order to allow all patrons an unobstructed panoramic view, revolving restaurant designers conceived unique seating, window, and lighting solutions for their dining rooms.
The revolving restaurant’s ability to rotate is due to its placement upon a turntable which slowly revolves. Commonly, these turntables are programmed to complete one rotation over the course of an hour, allowing diners to enjoy a full panoramic view during this time without leaving their seats. This fairly slow speed combined with the fluidity of the turntable’s movement prevents most diners from perceiving that they are in motion. As the central part of the dining room remains stationary in most cases, however, serving staff must be able to keep track of diners’ locations as their meals progress.
Architect John Graham designed the world’s first revolving restaurant, built in Hawaii in 1961. The concept caught on quickly, and in the 30 years that followed, revolving restaurants appeared atop hotels, television towers, and other tall structures in dozens of cities throughout the US and other Western nations. By the late 20th century, these restaurants had become fairly commonplace in the West, and their popularity dropped as many began to regard them as outdated “tourist traps.” Around the same period, however, new revolving restaurants began to spring up in the developing nations of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
In order to allow all patrons unobstructed panoramic views, revolving restaurant planners were required to conceive unique design solutions. For instance, designers realized that creating a tiered seating system offered all diners an equal view, regardless of their position at a table. Planners were also confronted by lighting issues, as lights which were too bright reduced one’s ability to see through the windows, while excessively dim lighting obstructed one’s ability to read a menu or see one’s food and dining companions. To solve this problem, many revolving restaurants incorporate windows with customized glazing which partially corrects unwanted reflections caused by interior lighting.