Photo: SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

New York City's SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Is the City's Newest Instagrammable Attraction

New York City News Art + Architecture
by Aryana Azari Sep 21, 2021

Get your cameras ready because New York City’s newest observation deck is finally open.

At 1,401, One Vanderbilt is the fourth-tallest building in New York City and it’s capitalizing on this extreme verticality. While there are other height-defying observation decks in New York City, this one is something special. The last four floors of the skyscraper, dubbed SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, are set up as a mirror-mad vantage point that offer unique and disorientating, 360-degree views of the skyline.

The 65,000-square-foot space takes the idea of an observation deck to the next level by making it a thrilling immersive experience. It achieves this through the use of mirror rooms — all the floors, walls, and ceilings are made up of mirrors so you can see yourself and the breathtaking views no matter where you look.

The visit begins by taking people up to the 91st floor of the building in a fully mirrored elevator (named Ascent), complete with light and sound effects, as you go to the top. Upon arrival, visitors walk into another realm by way of the first mirror room where every step provides a new perspective on the city.

One the first floor are two smaller installations called “Reflect” and “Affinity.” The former is in a non-mirror room but has rounded mirror fragments on the ground to provoke inward reflection. The latter is more playful, and has reflective ball-like spheres scattered throughout.

The second floor is another mirror room, with a large open balcony in the middle so that visitors can look through it to the first room and vice-versa.

Each floor has a theme to it to give visitors the impression that they’re transcending realities. The first two are Transcendence 1 and 2, and are part of the overall “Air” art installation by Kenzo Digital. The artist used their passion for New York City to create a space that activates multiple senses.

“Air is a space that is physiologically singular: your senses come alive. You look around, and what you see is ecstatic — a multiplicity of sky, city, and people. You take a step, and everything rearranges, at incredible scale, as if in defiance of physics. The countless planes of reflection make it feel like you’re suspended in air, with no single ‘you’ but hundreds, seen from every angle — inviting existential questions of identity,” the artist said in a statement.

The third floor takes visitors outside to the open-air SUMMIT Terrace. The terrace wraps around the building and is billed as the world’s highest urban outdoor alpine meadow. It has seating areas, an outdoor and indoor bar, and a cafe called Après.

Just above SUMMIT Terrace is the final part of the experience, “Levitation.” Visitors are able to step into glass sky boxes that jut out the side of the building to invoke a feeling of levitation above the city.

The experience and views are stunning no matter the time of day you visit, but the magic is heightened once the sun begins to set. You’ll truly feel like you’re entering another place entirely as a red glow emerges over the horizon. At night, the space and city come alive as a loop of color-changing lights and sounds immerse you even more. That’s said, you’ll need to add $10 to the price of the ticket if you want to visit during sunset.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is set to open to the public on October 21, 2021. Tickets for the attraction are now available online and start at $39 for adults.

Where: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, USA. Entrance located on the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal

Hours of operation: Thursday 3 PM to 10:30 PM; Friday and Saturday 9 AM to 12 AM; Sunday 10 AM to 7 PM

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