There are two things people remember when they visit the top of the Empire State Building, “the views and the line,” said Anthony Malkin, CEO and Chairman of Empire State Realty Trust, at an unveiling this morning of the landmark’s new Observatory entrance. As phase one of the decade-long Empire State ReBuilding project to modernize the building, the new entrance will greatly increase space and reduce the wait time for the 4.2 million annual Observatory guests. The space includes a “grand staircase which splits around a two-story architectural model of ESB,” along with new self-service ticket kiosks, digital screens showing images of the building over its 87 years, and high-tech “airport-style” security.
Guests will now enter on 34th Street as opposed to 5th Avenue. Though the exposed ductwork feels a bit off, the lobby plays up the historic building’s Art Deco features with its floor tiles and ceiling designs, reminiscent of those in the original entry.
The highlight of this space is the 25-foot model of the ESB, done by master model maker Richard Tenguerian in just 105 days (the actual building was constructed in just 410 days). It has the same number of windows as the building, 6,514, and weighs 1,274 pounds. It also has 15,000 LED bulbs to mimic the building’s tower lights and light shows.
Up the staircase are ticket kiosks available in nine languages.
While waiting to go through security, guests will view historic and current photos of the Empire State Building.
And for VIP guests, such as those flipping the switch to ceremoniously light the tower, the building will now have its first-ever green room. This will also be available to guests who are willing to drop what we assume will be a pretty penny on a private champagne reception and tour.
The entire Observatory rebuilding project is expected to be complete by late 2019. Until then, Empire State Realty Trust says they’ll be rolling out the new spaces in phases.
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All photos © Evan Joseph for Empire State Realty Trust
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