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Top of the rock—Observation deck at Rockefeller Center

Top of the rock—Observation deck at Rockefeller Center

New York, New York

By Maggie Koerth-Baker | August 11, 2010
This article first appeared in the 200610 issue of BD+C.

Opened in 1933, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center was designed to evoke the elegant promenades found on the period's luxury transatlantic liners—only with views of the city's skyline instead of the ocean. In 1986 this cultural landmark was closed to the public and sat unused for almost two decades. Last November, the observation deck was reopened following a $75 million renovation that restored the Art Deco masterpiece to perfection.

Old Suffolk County Courthouse

Key to the deck's renovation was the creation of a full Top of the Rock “experience.” Visitors begin their tour in the building's new three-story atrium lobby, where sweeping glass stairs circle around a giant Swarovski chandelier with 14,000 crystals. Rockefeller Center's elevator room was moved and extended by the Building Team to make room for a set of new elevator cars dedicated to whisking guests to the now-combined 67th, 69th, and 70th floors.

Old Suffolk County Courthouse
Closed for nearly two decades, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center has been restored to its original 1933 Art Deco appearance. New features include a nine-foot-tall, basesupported safety wall fitted with nonreflective glass panels to ensure unobstructed views of Central Park and the skyline.

At the top, visitors can wander through a series of rooms and terraces leading upward to the Grand Viewing Deck, encountering exhibits and a theater focused on the history of Rockefeller Center along the way. An interactive display gives visitors the illusion of walking a structural steel beam suspended 67 stories above the street.

Out on the decks and terraces, the Building Team restored the shot-sewn limestone and cast aluminum fleur-de-lis panels. They installed new nine-foot-tall, base-supported, nonreflective peri-glass safety barriers that withstand 100-mph winds. A coil snow melt system was also added to keep the deck from becoming slushy or dangerously icy. The result: 360-degree views of the Big Apple, in a setting worthy of the name Top of the Rock.





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