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$165-million redevelopment of Empire State Building completed with observatory revamp


Photos courtesy Evan Joseph Images/Empire State Building Reality Trust

The Empire State Building Observatory (ESBO) atop “The World’s Most Famous Building” announced in November 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 premiered on Nov. 27, on CBS This Morning‘s live broadcast and is posted exclusively on the Empire State Building’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page.

“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. Stay connected on social via #ESBReimagined.

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