Building a Legend: The Fascinating Story of the Empire State Building's Architecture

Known for its elegance, the Empire State Building is an iconic fixture of the New York City skyline and has been the most popular tourist attraction for decades. Designed in the art deco style of pre-World War II, the Empire State Building is the tallest in New York and is famous for its architectural style, historical significance, and the marvelous views it offers of the city and its skyline.

The attraction is more than just a skyscraper, it is a symbol of power, progress, and ambition. Let us take a look at the incredible story of the construction and architecture of the Empire State Building and how it became a symbol of New York City.

Empire State Building Architecture | Quick Facts

Official Name: Empire State

Function: Office, High-rise building

Location: 20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001

Opening Date: 11 April 1931

Area: 1,250′, 1,454′ to tip

Architectural Style: Art Deco

Main Architects: Yasuo Matsui, William F. Lamb, Gregory Johnson, Arthur Loomis Harmon

Empire State Building Architectural Style

The Empire State Building

Who Built the Empire State Building? 

The Empire State Building architecture is the creation of the architectural firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was led by the renowned architect William F. Lamb, an iconic figure in the industry during the time of the structure’s construction. The team at Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was behind the building’s design, including the construction of its impressive steel frame.

Stages of Construction

Early Stages

The idea of the Empire State Building came into being as a competition between Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation and John Jakob Raskob of General Motors, who competed to see who would build the taller building. Chrysler had begun work on the famous Chrysler Building. Meanwhile, Raskob had assembled a group of investors, who had chosen the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon Associates to design the building.

The Empire State Building was designed by William F. Lamb and it was designed from the top down. The excavation of the site began in 1930 and the construction of the building began the same year on March 17th.

Empire state building

Construction of an Architectural Masterpiece

The construction of the Empire State Building began in January 1930 and it was done at a remarkable pace of just 1 year and 45 days for it to be completed. The Empire State Building opened officially on May 1, 1931, making it the tallest building in the world during the time, surpassing the Chrysler Building. The frame of the building grew four-and-a-half stories per week.

The construction was split into two phases, the first being the excavation and foundation of the building and the second one being the interior and superstructure. There were a lot of challenges that were involved in the construction of the landmark. But despite facing these challenges, the project team ensured pushing forward by utilizing the latest technology and materials that were available during the time. This was a revolutionary achievement, being the first building to use steel frame technology.

Empire state building

Later Additions

Today, the 200-foot crowning spire illuminates with tower lights that dazzle with numerous combos of colors. A lot of the Empire State Building’s key design elements, right from its lighting to glasswork to the marble interiors had weathered. A lot of these defining pieces were in danger of being missing.

Currently, more than 12,000 feet of historic glassware is recreated with great attention to detail by historians and artisans. The damaged marble is removed and replaced with new stone. Standing at 102 stories height, the Empire State Building was the tallest for nearly 40 years after its completion. Today, it continues to be the world’s great tower and an architectural wonder with various additions like the 102nd-floor observation deck, new entrance, antenna, restoration of the lobby, exhibits, LED lights, and tower lights.

With a soaring height and great design, the Empire State Building has the world’s most beautiful Art Deco design and is a living piece of New York’s history and a symbol of the city’s culture. Efforts continue to be in place for a more sustainable Empire State Building with new energy-efficient technology put in place with zero compromises in its beauty and design ensuring the structure continues to be a global icon for generations.

Empire State building

Empire State Building Architectural Highlights Explained

The Empire State Building is one of New York City’s most famous landmarks standing at 1454 feet and has various architectural highlights. Keep scrolling to know what makes the building a notch above the rest.

The Empire State Building
Empire State Building architecture
The Empire State Building

Antenna

The Alford Antenna was set up in the Empire State Building in December 1965 and was the first ever combined radio FM antenna system that could allow 16 stations to broadcast all together at once. As a result, the Empire State Building could be one of the largest markets in the United States of America.

Empire State Building tower lights
Empire state building Exhibits
Fifth Avenue Lobby

Fifth Avenue Entrance

The Fifth Avenue entrance of the Empire State Building is famous for its grandeur and elegance. The entrance features Art Deco style decorations including geometric shapes and patterns and the words 'Empire State Building' highlighted in bold letters. The grand entrance opens out into the renovated Art Deco lobby.

The Empire State Building is Still an Architectural Marvel

Empire State Building architecture

The Empire State Building is a great symbol of progress, ambition, and resilience and stands tall in the New York city skyline as an iconic representation of the city and its history. It is an architectural marvel and the building’s presence in the city is iconic and hard to miss.

Standing at 102 stories height, the Empire State Building was the tallest for nearly 40 years after its completion. Today, it continues to be the world’s great tower and an architectural wonder. Efforts are in place for a more sustainable building with new energy-efficient technology put in place with zero compromises in its beauty and design, ensuring the structure continues to be a global icon for generations.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Empire State Building Architecture

Q. What is the Empire State Building?

A. Designed by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, the Empire State Building is a 102-storey Art Deco skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

Q. When was the Empire State Building built?

A. The Empire State Building was built between 1930 to 1931.

Q. What is the Empire State Building’s architectural style?

A. The Empire State Building architectural style is known as 'Art Deco,' which was influential between 1920 and 1939. This style mainly focused on traits that were unique in the 20th century.

Q. Who designed the Empire State Building?

A. Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon were the main architects involved in the design and construction of the Empire State Building.

Q. What are the dimensions of the Empire State Building?

A. The Empire State Building is 423 feet long, 187 feet wide, and 1454 feet tall.

Q. What’s inside the Empire State Building?

A. A lot of the floors present inside the Empire State Building are used as offices. The second and 80th floor comprises exhibits, while the observatories are situated on the 86th and 102nd floor.

Q. Why is the Empire State Building’s architecture famous?

A. The Empire State Building is a popular American building and was the world’s tallest building for decades. It is famous for its Art Deco architecture and the high, open observation decks.

Q. How long did it take to construct the Empire State Building?

A. It took one year and forty-five days to complete the construction of the Empire State Building.

Q. What are the main architectural elements of the Empire State Building?

A. The Empire State Building is known for its height and strong motif of vertical lines and setbacks. The architectural style of the building is defined by the concept of a skyscraper for decades and is truly an imperial design.

Q. Is the Empire State Building the tallest in the world?

A. The Empire State Building occupied a central spot in being the world’s first 100+ story building for a very long time. It is currently the 4th tallest building in New York City and the 6th tallest in the United States and the 43rd tallest tower in the globe.

Q. Is the Empire State Building energy efficient?

A. The Empire State Building is one of the world’s most energy-efficient buildings and is a model for modern leadership in the environment for decarbonizing existing buildings. The building underwent industry-leading deep energy that helped in reducing the usage of energy by more than 40% and carbon emissions by 55%.

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