The Empire State Building hosts more than 4 million visitors from around the globe annually. As part of the $165 million total redevelopment of the Empire State Building Observatory, the opportunity to transform the attraction’s famed 102nd floor posed a great opportunity and unique challenge. The project, designed by Corgan Associates Architects, was completed in October 2019.
To get to the 102nd floor, a critical part of the experience is the journey to the top in a new, custom-made glass elevator by the Otis Elevator Company. Visitors arrive on the 102nd floor in a glass shaft and are greeted with jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of the dramatic city skyline before the elevator ever opens its doors. Technical Glass Products’ (TGP) Fireframes Curtainwall Series fire-rated frames and Pilkington Pyrostop fire-rated glass form an interior elevator surround that preserves the city’s spectacular views while also providing critical fire resistance.
The UL-classified fire-rated glass and framing system on the 102nd floor will block the transfer of flames, smoke and radiant and conductive heat for up to two hours, safeguarding the Observatory floor’s critical area of egress.
“Thanks to its new floor-to-ceiling fire-rated glass enclosure and state-of-the-art elevator, the 102nd Floor Observatory provides awe-inspiring cityscape views,” says Anthony E. Malkin, chairperson, president and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust. “Along with providing fire resistance, the interior curtainwalls help maintain purity of view; ideal for tourists looking for an unrivaled view from 1,250 feet above New York City.”
Pilkington Pyrostop fire-rated glass is comprised of layers of Pilkington Optiwhite nearly colorless, wireless, low-iron float glass and clear intumescent interlayers, according to the company. Its makeup provides nearly the same level of visual clarity and color as ordinary float glass while still meeting stringent fire- and life-safety criteria.
TGP’s Fireframes Curtainwall Series fire-rated frames offer narrow profiles and crisp sightlines, according to the company. This helps preserve the building’s open layout and support code-driven design with custom wrapped corners and stainless-steel cladding. The frames and corners were provided by TGP and then clad in stainless steel by the metal/glass contractor, Infinite Glass and Metal Inc., creating a system that blends seamlessly with the Observatory’s interior aesthetic.