he One World Observatory is a 90,000-sq-ft tourist area located at the top of One World Trade Center and features educational, dining and retail attractions. A complicated design/build project, the high profile job was the result of collaboration between several different companies, including two design firms, the construction group, the client and several engineering groups. Given the significance of the location, the team was dedicated to creating an atmosphere that was respectful of the site’s past while also looking toward the future of the new structure.

While the observatory sits 1,500 ft in the air, the path begins in the lobby with an interactive feature called Voices of the Building that details the history of One WTC and personal stories told by the builders and designers. Another section displays Manhattan’s bedrock while the elevators play an animated video of Manhattan’s history on three sides of the cabins. This is followed by a dramatic See Forever Theater presentation about New York City that leads up to the unveiling of the windows on the 102nd floor.

The elevators, which were built to be the fastest in the Western Hemisphere, are a particularly unique part of the project. Traveling at speeds up to 2,200 ft per minute, each elevator is outfitted with nine 75-in. LCD screens, with the audio/visual presentation beginning when the lift is set into motion. To provide the power for these performances, additional cables were installed in the elevator shafts, inside magnetized conduits attached to the shaft walls.

The One World Observatory was able to stick to a strict one-year construction schedule despite several design revisions that took place while work was underway. The project team also was challenged to not disturb the building’s tenant Conde Nast during construction. The observatory is expected to attract approximately 4 million visitors per year and has earned LEED certification. 

One World Observatory
New York City

Key Players

Owner/Developer Legends Hospitality

Lead Design Firm Montroy Andersen DeMarco

General Contractor/Construction Manager JRM Construction Management

Structural Engineer WSP Global Inc.

MEP Engineer AMA Consulting Engineers PC