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Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

10 Big Facts About Toronto’s CN Tower

Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

Toronto's CN Tower is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and when adding in the height of its antenna on top, it’s the tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere. If you want to be higher than the birds, get ready to take flight and zoom up to the top of this iconic building. If you are scared of heights, don’t look down.

1. THE GLASS FLOOR OF THE OBSERVATION LEVEL CAN WITHSTAND THE WEIGHT OF 35 MOOSE.

Go ahead—jump up and down! The CN Tower's Glass Floor was designed to be strong, and can withstand the weight of 35 moose. Load tests are performed yearly (no, not with actual moose). The solid glass is actually five times stronger than what is required for weight-bearing commercial floors, and has the picturesque bonus of being situated 113 stories above the ground—perfect for a selfie.

2. TWICE A YEAR, YOU CAN TAKE THE STAIRS ALL THE WAY UP.

Fair warning for interested parties: that is a total of 1776 stairs (144 flights). Each year, the CN Tower hosts two fundraising stair climbs—one for the World Wildlife Fund of Canada, the other for United Way of Greater Toronto—that attract more than 20,000 participants and raise more than $2.5 million annually. 

3. THERE'S A TIME CAPSULE IN THE WALL OF THE TOWER'S LOOKOUT LEVEL.

As part of the tower's grand opening in 1976, a time capsule was placed in the wall of the building's LookOut level. Included in the time capsule are copies of three local newspapers, Canadian coins, letters from children, and a letter from then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (the father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). The plan is to open the capsule in 2076.

4. ON A CLEAR DAY, YOU CAN SEE NIAGARA FALLS FROM THE TOP.

From the Tower's SkyPod level, visibility can be up to 100 miles on a clear day, making it possible to see Niagara Falls and New York State. (Binoculars may help.)

5. IT'S A TARGET FOR LIGHTNING.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

This mighty tall tower is Toronto’s biggest lightning rod. According to Geoffrey Coulson, an Environment Canada meteorologist, the CN Tower is typically struck by lightning 75 to 80 times a year—but sometimes it’s much more frequent. In August of 2011, the tower was struck by lightning 52 times in 84 minutes. As for visiting: It’s safe for visitors to be there during a storm, since the tower channels the lightning charge through long copper strips. In fact, in 2015, a representative for the tower told the Toronto Star that “a lightning strike is not discernible to anyone inside the CN Tower. The sky may flash white for an instant. It is most visible outside and away from the tower.”

6. IF YOU'RE DARING ENOUGH, YOU CAN LEAN BACK—HANDS-FREE—OVER TORONTO.

Adventurous types can sign up to experience the tower's EdgeWalk, which allows you to take a stroll along a five-foot-wide ledge on the top of the building's main pod—outside. You are attached to an overhead safety rail and harness system, which allows you to physically lean back for a great view of Lake Ontario. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, and it doesn't come cheap. Tickets are $195 (though that comes with a video to prove to your family and friends that you actually did it).

7. THE TOWER'S COLORS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING.

The CN Tower's funky LED illumination light system is energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and free of UV radiation. It can also be controlled and directed, meaning that the Tower's colors regularly change; it goes green for Earth Day, turns blue for the Toronto Blue Jays's home opener, and becomes red and pink for Mother’s Day. This system also lets the city pay tribute to events around the world; in 2015, following the terror attacks in Paris, the tower was illuminated with the colors of the French flag—red, white, and blue.

8. IT'S GOT THE CLEAREST RECEPTION IN NORTH AMERICA.

The 335-foot steel communications antenna at the very top of the CN Tower broadcasts more than 30 Toronto television and FM radio signals, as well as microwave transmissions and wireless telephone signals. The antenna, which consists of 44 pieces, was put into place by a 10-ton Sikorsky helicopter named Olga. (Because what else would you name a helicopter?)

9. IT'S HOME TO THE WORLD'S HIGHEST WINE CELLAR.

In 1997 the “wine cellar in the sky” opened at 360, a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower. In 2006, Guinness World Records dubbed it the world's highest wine cellar (it's situated 1151 feet above the ground in Toronto). It can hold an impressive amount of vino, too—up to 9000 bottles. Cheers!

10. LAST YEAR, TWO DAREDEVILS JUMPED FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER.

In 2015, as part of the Pan Am Games, French BASE jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet surprised onlookers when they jumped from the top of the tower while film crews and a crowd looked on. (Yes, they had parachutes).

All images courtesy of CN Tower unless otherwise noted.

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Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
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architecture
Vantablack Pavilion at the Winter Olympics Mimics the Darkness of Space
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

British company Surrey NanoSystems disrupted the color spectrum when it debuted Vantablack: the darkest artificial substance ever made. The material is dark enough to absorb virtually all light waves, making 3D objects look like endless black voids. It was originally designed for technology, but artists and designers have embraced the unique shade. Now, Dezeen reports that British architect Asif Khan has brought Vantablack to the Winter Olympics.

His temporary pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea has been dubbed the darkest building on Earth. The 33-foot-tall structure has been coated with Vantablack VBx2, a version of Vantablack pigment that comes in a spray can.

The building’s sides curve inward like shadowboxes. To break up the all-consuming blackness, Khan outfitted the walls with rods. White lights at the ends of the sticks create the effect of stars scattered across an endless night sky.

Child next to wall painted to look like the night sky.
Luke Hayes, Asif Khan/Getty Images

Khan told Dezeen that the piece is meant to give “the impression of a window cut into space.” He was only able to realize this vision after contacting the scientists behind Vantablack. He told them he wanted to use the color to coat a building, something the pigment wasn’t designed for originally. Sculptor Anish Kapoor securing exclusive rights to artistic use of the color in 2016 further complicated his plans. The solution was the sprayable version: Vantablack VBx2 is structurally (and therefore legally) different from the original pigment and better suited for large-scale projects.

The pavilion was commissioned by Hyundai to promote their hydrogen fuel cell technology. The space-themed exterior is a nod to the hydrogen in stars. Inside, a white room filled with sprinklers is meant to represent the hydrogen found in water.

The area will be open to visitors during the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday, February 9.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Shari Austrian
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Design
You Can Order a Stunningly Detailed LEGO Replica of Your House on Etsy
Shari Austrian
Shari Austrian

LEGO blocks can be used to construct fictional starships and works of abstract art, but there's something comforting in replicating what's familiar to you. That's the concept behind Little Brick Lane, an Etsy shop that promises to custom-build detailed LEGO models of real homes.

Designer Shari Austrian tells Apartment Therapy that the idea came to her when her family was building their real-life house. Her twin boys had recently gotten her interested in LEGO, so she decided to construct a scaled-down, blocky replica to match their new home. She enjoyed the project enough to launch a business around LEGO architecture on Etsy at the end of 2017.

Austrian bases her designs off interior and exterior photos of each house, and if they're available, architectural plans. Over eight to 10 weeks, she constructs the model using LEGO pieces she orders to match the building design perfectly, recreating both the inside and outside of the house in the utmost detail.

To request a custom LEGO abode of your own, you can reach out to Austrian through her Etsy shop, but warning: It won't come cheap. A full model will cost you at least $2500 (the exact price is based on the square footage of your home). That price covers the cost of the materials Austrian invests in each house, which can add up quick. "The average LEGO piece costs approximately 10 cents," she tells Mental Floss, and her models are made up of tens of thousands of pieces. But if you're looking for something slightly cheaper, she also offers exterior-only models for $1500 and up.

For your money, you can be confident that Austrian won't skimp on any details. As you can see in the images below, every feature of your house—from the appliances in your kitchen to the flowers in your yard—will be immortalized in carefully chosen plastic bricks.

A bedroom made of LEGO

A kitchen model made of LEGO

The exterior of a house made of LEGO

[h/t Apartment Therapy]

All images courtesy of Shari Austrian.

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