See the new observation deck and rooftop ride proposed for 30 Rock

September 10, 2021

All renderings courtesy of Tishman Speyer

One of the city’s most popular observation decks could be getting a facelift. Tishman Speyer Properties has proposed several enhancements to the Top of the Rock deck at landmarked 30 Rockefeller Plaza, including a rotating attraction that lets visitors recreate the iconic “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” photo, a kinetic globe, and a new viewing platform on the 70th floor. The proposal was recommended for approval by Manhattan Community Board 5 last week and will be heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

During last month’s community board meeting on landmarks, EB Kelly, the managing director at Tishman Speyer overseeing Rockefeller Center, called the proposal a “collection of enhancements” to the Top of the Rock experience that “lean into the history and magic of this special place.”

“With these changes, we’re looking to tell the story of Rockefeller Center in a new way that will bring people back to discover what Rockefeller Center symbolizes: a beacon in the city, a place with incredible history, a place that is of the city, and that provides this beautiful and unique perspective on this city,” Kelly said.

The proposal, created collaboratively by a team of designers and architects, includes two main areas of work: the base and the very top of the building. The plan for the ground floor and mezzanine level involves moving over and expanding the ticketing entry to the Top of the Rock experience to an existing storefront and updating the lobby lighting and improving the overall flow of visitors.

On the 69th floor, there will be an experience on the north deck that is based on the iconic 1932 photo of 11 ironworkers eating lunch on a steel beam while they were constructing the RCA Building, known today as 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” experience includes a movable “beam,” where visitors can be seated, strapped in, and then raised and rotated, a recreation of the famous photograph.

According to the design team, when the beam is down, it remains hidden behind the parapet and the mechanicals are set into the roof.

The “Top of the Top,” a new observation platform that will offer 360-degree views and “never before seen” perspectives, is part of the plan for the 70th floor. The platform would replace an out-of-commission doppler radar and antenna mast.

A rooftop “beacon” is proposed for the east end of the 70th-floor deck. According to the presentation, the beacon is a kinetic globe that is digitally programmed to change when visitors arrive. The design also includes replacing the current red tiles on this level with mosaic tile work that has a celestial design, a reoccurring theme of the artwork seen throughout the complex.

The rooftop of 30 Rockefeller Plaza was always intended to be somewhat whimsical. When the building was built 90 years ago, the upper level was meant to recreate the experience of being on the deck of a cruise liner, according to Kelly. It even had a beacon that was designed to be seen from far away.

The Top of the Rock enhancements come as part of Tishman Speyer’s broader redevelopment of Rockefeller Center, including the park planned to open next month on the rooftop of Radio City Music Hall and restoration of the sunken plaza and other public space upgrades.

Selling New York City views as part of an attraction is not a new phenomenon. Most recently, standards for observation decks have been sky-high, with the opening of Hudson Yards’ 1,100-foot-high deck Edge, the over 1,000-foot Summit opening at One Vanderbilt next month, and the proposed revival of the Chrysler Building’s Cloud Club.


All renderings courtesy of Tishman Speyer

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