The Empire State Building Observatory Redevelopment Completed

NYC Skyline fromThe Empire State Building Observatory
The Empire State Building Observatory Redevelopment Completed

New 80th floor Completes Four-Year, $165 Million Redevelopment Project

The Empire State Building Observatory (ESBO) atop The World’s Most Famous Building today announces the completion of the redevelopment of its 80th floor. The final component of the four-year, $165 million project to reimagine the ESBO adds engaging and informative exhibits to orient visitors on their visit to New York City and showcases the building’s unique place at the center of it all.

New on the 80th floor is an exclusive, interactive partnership with NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership bureau for New York City, with five interactive video blades which allow visitors to utilize NYC & Company’s expertise to design itineraries for their visit using a massive inventory of destinations in all five boroughs. The itineraries automatically download to a visitor’s phone with the use of a QR Code reader or can be sent via e-mail. Designed in response to research that showed ESBO is many visitors’ first destination, this service is a boon to all tourists and New York City residents.

Interactive, augmented reality scenes from New York City, housed inside classic binoculars, bring visitors directly to the sights and sounds of popular destinations.  Other exhibits include videos of ESB’s famous light shows with interviews with Marc Brickman, the lighting artist who brings them to life, user-generated content, and famous British memory artist Steven Wiltshire’s monumental skyline of New York City. 

To celebrate the unveiling, the Empire State Building is also excited to announce the premiere of a new video starring Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Pulitzer-Prize winning composer, lyricist, and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda. Set to his love-letter to New York, Cheering for Me Now – an original track from his Hamildrop series with music by legendary composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago) and lyrics by Miranda, the video will feature a new music-to-light show designed by world-renowned lighting artist Marc Brickman and footage of Miranda exploring the all-new Observatory Experience. A portion of the video will premiere on November 27, on CBS This Morning‘s live broadcast and will be posted exclusively on the Empire State Building’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page. Fans in New York can also watch the music-to-light show live on the building that night at 8 p.m. while listening to the song on iHeartRadio’s Broadway channel via www.iheartradiobroadway.com.  

80th Floor Exhibits Include:

  • NYC: Above and Beyond: This exhibit, created in partnership with NYC & Company, encourages visitors to create a personalized trip itinerary from the top of the Empire State Building – often their first stop in New York City. After answering questions about their interests and the length of their stay, they can assemble a personalized list of recommendations for attractions and sites throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Guests can then obtain their customized itinerary via e-mail or scanned by QR code directly to the visitors’ handheld devices for future reference.
  • Artistry in Light: Ever wonder how the Empire State Building’s music-to-light shows are created? The Artistry in Light exhibit features a short film narrated by world-renowned lighting designer Marc Brickman, a master of light creation. The film features highlights from his designs, such as the first-ever music-to-light show with Alicia Keys in 2012, and a holiday light show synced to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
  • Stephen Wiltshire’s Drawing: In 2017, famed British artist Stephen Wiltshire took a 45-minute helicopter ride above Manhattan. He then drew an incredibly detailed landscape drawing of New York City, while in residence on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building, completely from memory. A three-minute film documents his process, from the 45-minute helicopter ride to the four days in which he created the original piece of art.
  • Scenes of NYC: Through Empire State Building’s classic viewfinders, visitors can check out panoramic views of nine different famed New York locations from the 80th floor. From Times Square to Coney Island, visitors get an up-close look (and even a glance inside) at places they can spot from the building’s 86th and 102nd floor observation decks.
  • Showtime Pictures: Excited to see the photos taken in front of the green screen on the 2nd floor? The pictures are captured from 25 different angles utilizing 25 different HD cameras to create an immersive experience to tell a visual narrative. The new location for pick up has been redesigned with facial recognition technology, to speed the retrieval and purchase process through self-service kiosks.
  • Share Your Experience: As visitors enter the exit queue, they are encouraged to share their pictures on their social media platforms by four screens that create mosaic shadows of each visitor with images shared by other guests that use the hashtag #empirestatebuilding.

“What began with the new Observatory entrance opening in August 2018 is now as we intended – a fully educational and immersive journey which connects visitors from around the world to their emotional connections to the World’s Most Famous Building and helps them design their entire visit to New York City from the center of it all. The completed Empire State Building Observatory elevates our Guests’ experience, from our new entrance to the dramatic and exciting new 102nd floor,” said Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust. “At 88 years young, the Empire State Building remains the icon of innovation, aspirations, and dreams, and is the vibrant ancestor of all tall buildings around the world.”

Thinc Design led the cross-disciplinary, best-in-class team from the arts and architecture, travel, technology, engineering, and entertainment industries that conceived, curated, designed, and built the project.

The team included:

  • Beneville Studios
  • Corgan
  • Diversified.
  • IDEO
  • Intersection
  • JLL
  • Kubik Maltbie
  • NYC & Company
  • Otis Elevator Company
  • Showtime Pictures
  • Skanska
  • Squint / Opera
  • Stephen Wiltshire
  • Syska Hennessy Group
  • Tactman
  • Tenguerian Models  
  • The Lighting Practice
  • Thornton Tomasetti

Tickets to the 86th Floor Observatory start at $38 with tickets to the 102nd Floor Observatory available for an additional $20. Tickets can be pre-purchased online at www.empirestatebuilding.com or in real time on-site at kiosks located on the second and 86th floor.