Empire State Building Unveils Innovative, Multi-Media Sustainability Exhibit At Visitor's Center

Iconic Landmark Transforms Energy Retrofit Story Into a Permanent, Interactive and Compelling Consumer Experience


The Empire State Building unveiled a $2 million interactive, multi-media sustainability exhibit at the second floor visitor’s center, which showcases a $20 million energy retrofit project that was announced in April 2009 with President Bill Clinton and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. By communicating the story of the building’s retrofit program under way, the installation aims to educate the millions of people who visit the building every year on the global impact of both energy efficient building and sustainable living practices. Upon completion of the program, the Empire State Building will reduce total energy usage by more than 38 percent, energy costs by $4.4 million annually, and carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years.

To bring the Empire State Building energy retrofit program to life, Seattle-based design firm Hornall Anderson was selected to create a sustainability exhibit. This installation translates the technical retrofit story into an easy-to-understand consumer experience that introduces the topic of energy efficiency in the context of the Empire State Building, New York City, and the planet. The exhibit combines physical artifacts with technology and integrates digital and sculptural elements to create interactive museum-quality displays that educate and entertain visitors on their way to the renowned Observatories.

To develop the exhibit, the Hornall Anderson design team matched existing materials throughout the building to create a space that reflects the character of the Empire State Building and its Art Deco heritage. 15 digital storytelling screens, 18 video players, and four projectors along with detailed visuals, statistics, and interactive screens guide visitors through the interactive and stylized exposition.

As visitors enter the exhibit, a transformational cube introduces the topic of sustainability. The cube illustrates and explains the environmental impact of energy inefficient commercial buildings as well as the scope, vision and benefits of the sustainable global template in place at the Empire State Building. As visitors move through the exhibit they are educated on each of the eight major retrofit initiatives being implemented at the Empire State Building and exposed to statistics highlighting the environmental effects of the process.

A mobile application program has additionally been developed to give visitors the option to retrieve more information following their visit to the building. To access the application, QR codes are displayed throughout the exhibit that when entered will reveal supplementary interactive content.

The Empire State Building is leading the charge in innovation and setting the groundwork for existing buildings around the world to follow suit. Most recently, the Empire State Building has been recognized for this initiative being awarded a commercial building ENERGY STAR rating of 90 out of 100, as well as first place distinction by The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) in the 2009 SBIC Beyond Green Awards.

The Empire State Building sustainability exhibit is open seven days a week at the second floor visitor’s center during visiting hours from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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