Empire State Building Unveils Observatory Entrance

The new entrance on West 34th Street is the first phase of a redevelopment project expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

The Empire State Building (ESB) recently unveiled the first phase of its reimagined Observatory, the new entrance at 20 West 34th Street. Part of the decade-long Empire State ReBuilding project, the new entrance provides visitors to ESB’s Observatories with a larger entrance and seamless flow solely for Observatory Guests — repositioning 4.2 million visitors from ESB’s Fifth Avenue entrance, and improving the tenant experience.

The new entrance is the first phase of a redevelopment project which will be complete by the end of 2019. It was brought to life by a cross-disciplinary, best-in-class team from the arts and architecture to technology and entertainment industries, to conceive and curate the fully-modernized masterpiece:

  • Thinc Design
  • Beneville Studios
  • Ideo
  • Squint / Opera
  • JLL
  • Intersection
  • Diversified
  • Skanska
  • Kubik Maltbie
  • Thornton Tomasetti
  • Corgan
  • Syska Hennessy Group
  • The Lighting Practice
Empire State Building
(Photo: Empire State Realty Trust)

This new entrance features more space, improves an organized flow, and hints of what will come from the next phases of the redevelopment. Visitors ascend a grand staircase which splits around a two-story architectural model of ESB. New electronic, self-service ticket kiosks simplify the visitor entry as they choose options for their visit.

“Our leadership in innovation continues with this transformative reimagination of our entrance, the first phase of the completely new Observatory experience,” said Anthony E. Malkin, Chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT). “We have a high level of confidence that our work will increase customer satisfaction immensely and drive bottom-line performance. We have already transformed the Empire State Building into the Urban Campus within a building, one of the most modern and energy-efficient buildings in the world. Now, ESB raises the bar for the Guest experience to make it best-in-class, bar none.”

Lighting Plays Part In New Entryway

Empire State Building
(Photo: Empire State Realty Trust)

New York City-based lighting design firm The Lighting Practice joined ESRT at the unveiling and ribbon cutting of the Empire State Building’s new 34th Street entrance and grand lobby. As part of the project team, The Lighting Practice provided the lighting and control system design for the renovated entrance and public areas, elevators, exhibits and model displays, celebrity green room and amenity rooms. The firm worked closely with ESRT and the rest of the project team on the conception and execution of the design. The transformation was based on input from more than four million people who pass through the doors of this building each year.

This new experience at the Empire State Building comes in part from its integration of technology to improve guest accessibility and social shareability. A majestic grand staircase in the new 34th Street entrance overlooks a 25-foot architectural model of the building that mimics the colors of the world-famous tower lights. Engaging transaction systems and digital, interactive exhibits facilitate the visitor journey.

All lighting fixtures in the newly opened space use LED sources, and lighting intensities are tuned to each space and are programmed to change to maximize guest engagement. The building models use miniature color-changing LEDs with a graphical user interface designed into the lighting control system.