Originally planned to open in 1999, the project eventually came online in 2005 six years late and by this time had been renamed from the Portsmouth Millennium Tower to avoid embarassment.
The name of Spinnaker comes from the shape of the exoskeleton which billows out like a sail catching the downwind.
The Spinnaker Tower was originally supposed to be funded entirely by lottery grants and private sources but cost overruns saw the local council intervene and make up the £11.1 million shortfall in the budget to avoid it being left uncompleted on their skyline.
Since completion the project has been hit by numerous problems including cracked glass floors in the observation area despite a supposed product life-time of 80 years and the breakdown of the external lift that ironically trapped the representative of the elevator supplier, Maspero, in it for 90 minutes.
The tower stands on 88 1400 mm concrete piles set from a floating platform in a job taking seven months. During this time they were sunk to a depth from 36 metres to 51 metres and steel casing on the top ends measuring 18 metres to 36 metres.
The result of the dockside construction is that the Spinnaker Tower is in the unusual position of having an identical AGL and AOD height as the ground level is at sea-level.
The Spinnaker Tower is lit by 28 Martin Architectural Exterior 600 color changing lights to uplight the front and top whilst there are a further 22 Martin Exterior 200 color lights for the sides and LEDs fitted to the interiors of the viewing levels. All of this allows six different light shows including one called "Time" that cycles through the entire colour spectrum from blue to red over 125 minutes.
As of 2006 the Spinnaker Tower is the tallest observation tower in the U.K and has the highest glass floor in Europe.
Two thirds of the way up the structure is a triplex observation deck with 320 degree views that stretch for 23 miles.