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 is known for its iconic design. The architects of the Empire State Building aimed to create a modern, functional, and aesthetically pleasing Art Deco detailed structure, where it represented the height of modern design. This style was influential between roughly 1920 and 1939.
The building was designed to be a symbol of advancement and progress, embodying the spirit of the age. Art Deco was a modernist style that focused on the 20th century over the traditions of the past. It focused on using modern materials such as plate glass and steel and merged architectural traditions from around the world into an original style.About the Art Deco Style
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
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.
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.
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 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.
Art Deco Lobby
The Art Deco Lobby of the Empire State Building is New York’s most visited landmark. It consists of a 24-karat gold and aluminum leaf mural on the ceiling with gears put together in homage to the mechanical age. Another famous feature is the medallions, which are placed above the entrance door inside the building – with electricity, heating, and masonry, all commemorating the new technology in completing the building in the art deco style.About the Art Deco Lobby
Observation Decks (86th and 102nd floors)
The 86th floor of the Empire State Building is all about the view, with both indoor and outdoor viewing experiences. This is the highest floor within the actual tower, and all the height above this is the spire. From the 86th floor, you can ride up the 102nd floor observation deck. Situated on the highest floor of the Empire State Building, the 102nd floor features floor-to-ceiling glass windows and offers a spectacular view over the city stretching up to 80 miles on a clear day.About the Empire State Building Observatories
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.
The Tower Lights of the Empire State Building have been a defining feature of the New York City skyline since 1976. It has a tradition of changing the color of the lights in recognition of important occasions, organizations, and holidays during the year. Since 2012, the building has had a state-of-the-art LED lighting system that displays over 16 million colors.About the Empire State Building Lights
The Empire State Building has a wide range of exhibits on the 2nd and 80th floors of the building. Here you can explore and learn about all things related to the building and its history. These exhibits give information regarding the iconic skyscrapers’ construction, architecture, history, and their appearances in popular culture.About the Empire State Building Exhibits
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
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Empire State Building Architecture
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.
A. The Empire State Building was built between 1930 to 1931.
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.
A. Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon were the main architects involved in the design and construction of the Empire State Building.
A. The Empire State Building is 423 feet long, 187 feet wide, and 1454 feet tall.
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.
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.
A. It took one year and forty-five days to complete the construction 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.
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.
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%.