When other cities go big, New York City goes high. Last September, the Big Apple welcomed SUMMIT One Vanderbilt (@summitov), a sky-high observatory atop One Vanderbilt, Manhattan’s tallest office building. Peaking at 1,401 feet, it’s also the city’s fourth-tallest skyscraper after One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower, and 111 West 57th Street.
Designed by Oslo-based firm Snøhetta, the 65,000-square-foot SUMMIT marks the fifth observatory to survey NYC’s skyline from stratospheric heights—but it’s the only one to bring visitors on an interactive art rollercoaster that employs light, sound, and optical illusion.
Guests enter from inside Grand Central Terminal to kick off the immersive four-chapter journey. After picking up a pair of optional sunglasses (we recommend wearing shades to combat the blinding glare), you’ll slide into an elevator that catapults riders up to the 91st floor in just 42 seconds. Before you know it, you’ve begun the first chapter: “Air.”
Created by artist Kenzo Digital, “Air” is a walk-through installation of mirror-covered walls, floors, and ceilings that creates a mind-bending infinity effect as it reflects the surrounding cityscape. Keep an eye out for the satellite rooms; one features “Clouds,” a floor-based metallic constellation by legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Another is filled with shiny silver balloons that dance to an atmospheric soundtrack.
Up one floor is the second chapter: “Levitation,” a row of glass sky-boxes that jut out from the flank of the building. Step inside, and you’ll be suspended 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue. The experience continues with “Ascent,” a knee-buckling climb up the building’s exterior in an all-glass elevator to 1,210 feet above the ground.
At last, the conclusion: “Après”. Reward yourself at SUMMIT’s cafe and bar, managed by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events. Head out on the open-air terrace for a daytime cocktail, or catch the sunset on a warm evening. It’s a dazzling experience you won’t soon forget.
General admission tickets to SUMMIT start at $39 and soar to $83 for evening admission with a cocktail.