Thinc transforms iconic Empire State Building with new visitor experience
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Thinc transforms iconic Empire State Building with new visitor experience

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From start to finish, we made the whole thing experiential

Work was recently completed inside the Empire State Building, with design firm Thinc creating a spectacular reimagining of the iconic New York City landmark's popular observatory experience.

Tom Hennes, principal at Thinc, has worked on museum and exhibition and museum design since the mid-90s. In December 2016, he was handed the task of modernising the building's visitor experience.

Among the work, the entry experience has been improved, while new galleries tell the story of the Empire State Building and its impact on pop-culture over the last 90 years.

"Going through the queue and getting up to the observation deck wasn't very pleasant for visitors," said Hennes, speaking in the latest edition of Attractions Management. "They loved the building and the view, so were still coming droves, but the journey up was less than optimal.

"From start to finish, we made the whole thing experiential. The aim was to create memorable moments that visitors could hang onto, really treasure and really associate with the Empire State Building. It clearly had to involve its construction and its place in popular culture, but we wanted to look at life inside as well."

Among the galleries visitors can see a room showing the building in movies, commercials, TV shows video games and more. King Kong is also present, with his eyes peering menacingly through a set of 1930s windows, the gorilla’s fingers break through. There’s also a section showing famous visitors to the building and another showing a recreation of its original elevator cab and electrical control board which were installed in 1931.

The redevelopment has come at a cost of US$165m. The first phase – the relocation of the visitor entrance – was completed in August 2018. The second phase – the observatory – opened at the end of July this year. Phase three will be completed in September, with the reconstruction of the glassed-in 102nd-floor observation deck.

For more from Tom Hennes, see the latest issue of Attractions Management, available now.

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