The Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Top of the Rock, and The Edge all offer spectacular views high above the streets of New York City. But at New York City’s newest observation deck, the real experience will be the journey to the top. Opening October 21, the Ascent, an enclosed all-glass elevator, will rise 1,210 feet above the city along the exterior of the Summit One Vanderbilt tower. The see-through elevator will launch just off of Grand Central Terminal’s main concourse, offering a new kind of immersive perspective of the city.
“You have to experience it to understand the full feeling, but it’s incredible,” Rob Schiffer, managing director of the tower’s developer, SL Green Reality Corp, told Travel + Leisure. “I’ve been in buildings and on terraces all over New York and the world – and this is a unique experience. It takes you to the highest outdoor vantage point in NYC and it’s a view that is beyond stunning. It’s a must.”
The idea came about while looking at a scale model during the design process for One Vanderbilt. “Looking at the crown of the building extending another 300 feet above the Summit’s highest floor, we knew we had to get people higher,” Schiffer explains. “For a variety of reasons, taking them up inside the building wasn’t possible. That’s when the idea of taking them up outside the building was born, and we went to work developing the concept that eventually become Ascent.” Snøhetta, the architectural design firm behind the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavillion at the World Trade Center, worked to bring the interior vision to life.
The elevator isn’t the only glass-enclosed space at Summit One Vanderbilt. Once at the top, guests can step onto Levitation, glass sky boxes that protrude out from the tower, hovering 1,063 feet in the air, with a clear view of Madison avenue below. “It will take your breath away and provide you with another unique vantage point of NYC,” Schiffer told Travel + Leisure. Also at the top is an outdoor bar. The seating area will include the world’s highest urban outdoor alpine meadow.
“Wait until we unveil the rest of the attraction, which is a multilevel, multisensory immersive art experience that is unlike anything else in the world,” Schiffer said. That feature will be revealed this summer by storytelling studio Kenzo Digital Immersive. “Using materiality, light design, sound design, production design, and animation, this immersive experience will awaken your senses, transform your perception of New York, and reimagine your relationship to nature,” artist Kenzo Digital of Kenzo Digital Immersive said in a statement. “It will be the ultimate example of the democratization of art- a revelatory experience regardless of age, origin, or walk of life.”