SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, New York City’s fifth public high-rise observatory, officially opened to the public yesterday afternoon at 1:00 PM. A group of SL Green Realty executives, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt creators, One Vanderbilt partners, and New York City leaders gathered atop the 91st floor of the 65,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor venue earlier yesterday morning to give speeches and cut a ceremonial ribbon before the first visitors arrived.
Perched on the top four floors of Kohn Pedersen Fox‘s 1,401-foot supertall, SUMMIT features thrilling vantage points and a collection of immersive spaces and art installations from Kenzo Digital, placing it among the most Instagram-worthy destinations the city has to offer. The venue also includes Danny Meyer’s latest culinary outpost perched 1,100 feet above Midtown, Manhattan, called APRÈS, which was separately designed by Snøhetta.
Looking up from street level and further back from Sixth Avenue reveals the intricately designed crown that culminates with the white architectural spire. Tucked behind the staggered and sloped setbacks are a set of large window washing rigs provided by R&R Scaffolding. They are only visible when put into operation and stay hidden behind the walls of the crown.
After passing through security screening, guests enter a preview room of the observatory and One Vanderbilt, then a hallway leading to the elevators. The doors open on Kenzo Digital’s most noteworthy room in the Air experience, called Transcendence 1. Nearly all of the floor tiles, walls, ceiling panels, and columns are clad in mirrors, providing a seemingly limitless vista of the city. This is where the ribbon cutting took place.
Sunset is just as stunning as seeing the city in the daytime.
“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,” said Marc Holliday, Chairman and CEO of SL Green, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “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. 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.”
“As New York mounts its comeback, it is important that we recognize and celebrate projects like this that remind us and the world about the resiliency and energy of our city,” said Democratic Mayoral nominee Eric Adams. “By building and growing—and adding experiences that demonstrate what our city can offer—new attractions like SUMMIT One Vanderbilt will help New York reach new heights.”
“New York City has always been a global beacon of hope, pride, resilience and energy,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin. “As such, it is fitting that SUMMIT One Vanderbilt—a literal beacon on the New York City skyline—celebrates its grand opening at a time when this city is returning. Despite the challenges over the last nearly two years, New Yorkers have shown more grit and determination than ever before as we all work together to bring New York City back to its full capacity and vitality.”
“A key part of Manhattan’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be the return of international tourism,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “World-class attractions will play a big part in bringing customers back to Manhattan and its restaurants, shops, and theaters. I congratulate SL Green on the opening of SUMMIT at One Vanderbilt.”
“The debut of SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is perfectly timed as New York City continues its economic recovery and as the gates of international travel swing more widely open next month,” said NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon. “We applaud SL Green for their extraordinary investment and encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to discover this thrilling new attraction high above New York City.”
Also on the 91st floor is a one-story mirrored space, called Affinity, which is filled with hundreds of whimsically lightweight metallic balloons. They hover across the room and are enclosed behind the floor-to-ceiling glass panels that make up the glass and terra cotta curtain wall of One Vanderbilt.
Yayoi Kusama has a stainless steel art display on the floor next to Affinity, called Clouds.
Taking the escalators up to the 92nd floor brings guests to the top of the main two-story atrium to a mezzanine vantage point called Transcendence 2.
The next room, called Levitation, is fitted with two all-glass boxes that protrude from the western side of the edifice. The clear floor panes look 1,063 feet down at the passing cars and pedestrians along Madison Avenue. People can gaze south toward Lower Manhattan, directly west at the lights and skyscrapers around Times Square, and north at the residential supertalls lining Billionaires’ Row while standing beyond the tapered sides of One Vanderbilt.
The final installment of Air is Unity, where people walk next to a massive 750-square-foot seamless Samsung LED screen that displays three-dimensional portraits of guests who had their pictures taken down at the main entrance and are then digitized and transformed into a mesmerizing animated skyscape with passing clouds and bold colors.
“Air is a love letter to New York, an immersive art experience that is a living, breathing entity, expressed through its multi-sensory use of material choice, sound, lighting and production design,” said Kenzo Digital, Artist and CEO, Kenzo Digital Immersive. “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. Air compels you to live in the present moment: calm, aware and free.”
“At Samsung, we have a vision for how to embrace and link human experience with our breathtaking state of the art LED Wall technology,” said Harry Patz, senior vice president and general manager for Samsung Electronics America’s Display Division. “We are proud to partner with SL Green to deliver on their vision to create an immersive environment of Unity and Empowerment showcasing our spectacular 18’x8’ IWJ Wall Series product in this exciting iconic New York City venue.”
Moving onto the 93rd level is APRÈS, a Nordic themed lounge and café featuring bespoke light fare and an innovative cocktail program curated by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events.
“Our design for SUMMIT One Vanderbilt anchors futuristic installation experiences with quiet and subtle spaces that resonate emotionally with visitors, connecting the interiors of the observatory to the city,” said Craig Dykers, founding partner, Snøhetta. “Visitors can inhabit the observatory in a uniquely intimate manner, providing new perspectives of the city beyond. The result is an authentic experience and a memory to be cherished for years to come.”
“Our team is proud to add additional flavor to this thrilling new destination that will place a resounding exclamation point on New York City’s renaissance,” said Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group.
Visitors then walk outside and enter the Summit Terrace with the highest urban alpine meadow in the Western hemisphere. Sitting above the outdoor APRÈS bar are the metal guide rails on which the two glass elevators ride travel. This is the final and highest point in the observatory experience, called Ascent, where the pair of elevators gradually climb beyond the sloped western corner setback and reach over 1,200 feet, or 364 meters, in height, making it the highest observation point Midtown, Manhattan. A brief pause in motion follows afterward before the lift comes back down. A gift shop awaits before heading back down below grade to exit through a secondary gift shop.
Summit One Vanderbilt is equipped with cutting-edge UV-c light sanitization, MERV 16 air filtration, and 9-stage volatile organic compound (VOC) HEPA Filters to ensure the highest air quality and cleanest surfaces. Right now, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is open Thursday through Sunday and ticket prices start at $39 for adults. Special pricing for New York City residents is also available online only. Ascent is only available when purchasing SUMMIT Ascent and Ultimate SUMMIT tickets and is not included in the regular $39 admission tickets.