New York City’s Empire State Building debuts a brand new entrance and lobby for its world-renowned observatories

A sneak peak of the first phase of a massive Empire State redesign.

Empire State Building stairs
The newly redesigned Empire State Building Observatory lobby features a beautiful 23.6 foot building model created by Richard Tenguerian.Jeanette D. Moses

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.

Empire state building
Detail view of the 23.6 foot building model created by Richard Tenguerian.Jeanette D. Moses

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.

Empire state building stairs
The model took 105 days to build.Jeanette D. Moses

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.

The new entrance opens to the public today.

Empire State Building redesign
A crowd takes in the features of the newly redesigned Empire State Building lobby.Jeanette D. Moses
Empire State Building ticket screen
Automated ticket kiosks to purchase tickets to the top have also been added to the redesigned entrance.Jeanette D. Moses
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A woman tests the functions of the automated ticket kiosk inside the new lobby of the Empire State Building.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building photo gallery
Beautiful large scale photographs of the Empire State Building are displayed throughout the new space.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building photo gallery
Large scale images featuring famous visitors are on view throughout the waiting area.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building photo gallery
More large scale images featuring famous visitors are on view throughout the waiting area.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building photo gallery
The waiting area also highlights photos of everyday people visiting the iconic building's observation deck.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building security
A new state of the art security system will make getting to the top quicker.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building security
Most people visit the Empire State Building in groups of 2 or 3, the security checkpoint was designed with this in mind.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building security
The new security checkpoint.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building design
Acrovyn Wallcovering details inside the new waiting area.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building photo gallery
A picture featuring a rainbow over the Empire State Building on view in the new waiting area.Jeanette D. Moses
Empire State Building ticket screen
Interactive host screens are spread throughout the space, each features employees of the Empire State Building sharing their favorite stories from the iconic place.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building relic
A replica of the switch used during Empire State Building lighting ceremonies.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building design
Wall art welcoming guests to the new space.Jeanette D. Moses
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Ceiling details in the newly redesigned space.Jeanette D. Moses
Empire State Building redesign
The 23.6 foot model of the Empire State Building in the new lobby area.Jeanette D. Moses
empire state building design
An artistic mosaic of the Empire State Building in the new entrance.Jeanette D. Moses
Empire State Building ticket screen
An interactive host screen in the newly redesigned waiting area of the Empire State Building.Jeanette D. Moses
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