New York City’s Empire State Building is one of the most famous architectural structures in the world—it also happens to offer epic views of Manhattan from it’s renowned observatories. Unfortunately, getting to those world-class vantage points wasn’t the most pleasant experience: getting to the top required standing in long lines in a claustrophobic space. It essentially felt like waiting in the lobby of an old office building, luckily for photographers that is changing.
Yesterday the Manhattan building debuted its brand new observatory entrance and lobby, the first phase of a $150 million redevelopment project slated for completion by the end of 2019. We got a sneak peak of the newly redesigned space before it opened to the public.
Up until now, the 4.2 million visitors that come to the Empire State Building annually have entered through the Fifth Avenue entrance.
Starting today, Observatory visitors will enter through a new entrance on 20 West 34th Street. The new lobby is larger than the original and was created with interactivity, selfie opportunities, and a more seamless room flow in mind. It essentially makes the experience of waiting in line to get to the top—which is why everyone actually goes—much more bearable.
The crown jewel of the newly redesigned space is a 23.6 foot building model created by Richard Tenguerian. The two story model was built in 105 days, has 6514 windows (the same amount as the actual Empire State Building), mirrors the colors of the LED tower lights, and can replicate the building’s light shows.
The redesigned entrance and lobby also features automated ticket kiosks, digital directional signs in nine languages, a green room for VIP guests, interactive host screens where guests can hear personal stories and insider tips from longtime members of the Empire State Building’s staff and a state of the art security system.
The entirety of the waiting area is accented with massive, beautiful photographs of the Empire State Building from past and present, celebrity guests on the Observatory level and everyday people enjoying the iconic views from the top. It’s both educational and gives guests a hint of what is to come.