Beyer Blinder Belle to Restore Empire State Building Lobby
Work will begin with the historic gold- and silver-leaf ceiling mural.
Meaghan O'Neill -- Interior Design, 4/6/2007 12:00:00 AM
Soaring nearly 1,500 feet above Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building touts breathtaking views and attracts million visitors annually. But at 75 years old, even “the world’s most famous office building” needs some T.L.C., especially if wants to keep attracting new tenants. To that end, recent upgrades have been made to the building’s infrastructure and, now, public areas. Currently, a comprehensive restoration and revitalization of its famous Art Deco lobby is underway.
Originally designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, the space will be spruced up by world-renowned Beyer, Blinder Belle Architects & Planners. The firm—which has previously revitalized national landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal and the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration in New York, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.—will work to restore the lobby’s original historic character. A number of features, finishes, and distinctive architectural details obscured by alterations over time will be restored or recreated. At the same time, the firm will help improve the structure’s operations as a modern office building.
Current plans include the restoration of the lobby’s historic ceiling mural, which depicts a celestial sky rendered in gold and silver leaf; it was fully covered by a drop ceiling with fluorescent lighting installed during the 1960s. Working with art conservation consultant EverGreene Painting Studios and lighting designers Light Projects Group, Beyer Blinder Belle has already accurately recreated a portion of the damaged original mural. In addition, the plan calls for the replacement of the lobby’s original incandescent uplighting fixtures with modern, energy-efficient fixtures and supplemental downlights, which would meet contemporary requirements and create a historically accurate effect.
Beyer Blinder Belle will also address planning and design issues throughout the lobby’s street entrances, corridors, retail spaces, and elevator bank areas, including a visitor desk and revamped pedestrian circulation as well as security features and improved signage.