New Midtown NYC Skyscraper’s Top Floors Have Much More Than Just A Great View; Features Immersive, Experiential Observatory

October 22, 2021 by Dave Haynes

A new tourist ands event destination opened way up high in New York on Thursday – what’s described as the world’s most immersive observatory experience.

The ribbon was cut to open SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, a multi-level space put together 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The features include immersive art experiences supported, in part, by a 48 by 12 foot Samsung LED video wall.

I was sent some advance material on this venue last week, but the design and art-speak in it was so heavy it was almost incomprehensible. This summary is better, but will still make no-nonsense people crazy. It took a Linkedin post from a Samsung exec to confirm there was indeed an LED video wall in there.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt will be enjoyed from morning to night as guests take in New York’s most stunning views through the truly unique pairing of AIR, a multi-sensory art installation, with the thrilling experiences of LEVITATION and ASCENT.

“This awe-inspiring destination in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is unlike any other experience in the world and it’s with great pride and excitement that we welcome our first visitors to SUMMIT One Vanderbilt today. The energy in New York City is palpable and we’re thrilled that SUMMIT One Vanderbilt can play a central role in its rebound as visitors come rushing back to the greatest city in the world,” says Marc Holliday, Chairman and CEO of building owner SL Green. “We set out to create a truly unique destination for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world to explore and SUMMIT One Vanderbilt delivers – you need to experience it to understand it. From thrilling ways to take in the best views of Manhattan to the multi-level and multi-room immersive art experience called AIR, we expect people to visit again and again.”

This multi-level, 65,000 square-foot entertainment space took years to conceive, design and develop. Ideally located in the heart of Midtown, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt boasts thrill experiences, elevated food and cocktails, and an outdoor terrace with the highest urban alpine meadow in the Western hemisphereThrill seekers can enjoy 2 options to test their mettle.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt’s LEVITATION sky boxes allow guests to step out from the envelope of the building and stand on transparent glass 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue, with the hustle and bustle of city streets directly beneath them. For the extreme thrill seeker, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt’s ASCENT, an all-glass elevator with a transparent glass floor, will take guests from the terrace level up the side of the building, to over 1,200 feet (364 meters), nesting at the highest viewing point in midtown Manhattan.

The final stops on the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt journey are APRÈS and the SUMMIT TERRACE. APRÈS is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt’s sky-high lounge and café featuring bespoke light fare and an innovative cocktail program curated by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events. APRÈS’ offerings can be enjoyed inside the Nordic themed lounge and café designed by Snøhetta or outside on the SUMMIT TERRACE. The SUMMIT TERRACE wraps around the south and west sides of One Vanderbilt and is the perfect open air viewing spot to take in the incredible views for up to 80 miles while toasting your experience at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt.

AIR is the story-driven, multi-space immersive experience within SUMMIT One Vanderbilt designed by Kenzo Digital. AIR begins in TRANSCENDENCE 1, which mixes transparency and reflectivity, creating the illusion of boundless space, faceting the world into an infinite universe without fixed form or limit. Every moment in TRANSCENDENCE 1 offers a tantalizing and singular experience, unique to that moment in time. With AFFINITY, the story of AIR evolves, becomes playful, interactive, as visitors are invited to connect physically to the hundreds of reflective orbs hovering around them. 

AIR evolves yet again with the breathtaking mezzanine vantage point of TRANSCENDENCE 2, where visitors revel in the power of new perspective and witness the ecstatic first moments of new visitors entering the space below. The story of AIR concludes with UNITY, as each visitor becomes part of the experience itself, their three-dimensional portrait transformed into a cloud in a mesmerizing, ever-changing, animated skyscape.

At night, the magic of AIR dramatically shifts as TRANSCENDENCE 1, 2 and AFFINITY are transformed through a one-of-a-kind light and sound story, turning AIR into a beacon of energy, visible to all of New York City and beyond.

“Air is a love letter to New York, an immersive art experience that is a living, breathing entity, expressed through its multisensory use of material choice, sound, lighting and production design. It’s a story that evolves with each successive space, bringing visitors deeper and deeper into the experience until finally, they become part of it,” says Kenzo Digital, Artist and CEO, Kenzo Digital Immersive.“Air compels you to live in the present moment: calm, aware and free.”

Okey-dokey …

The video below does show towards the end a very cool little visual trick that takes face-shape captures and replicates them in the clouds of the video wall.

The experience in UNITY is supported by a massive, 750 square foot seamless Samsung wall display. Electrosonic was the AV integrator.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is open Thursdays through Sundays and ticket prices start at $39 for adults.

Leave a comment