Case Study

Restoring the Empire State Building’s Art Deco Luster

October 02, 2020
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The iconic Empire State Building has a new sparkle due to a project that has restored its Art Deco luster from the 1930s.

Empire State Realty Trust, along with project managers JLL, Master Riggers from ColeNYC, and CANY Architecture and Engineering, have streamlined and returned the Empire State Building to its original design that was a significant influence on architectural styles.

When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, the distinctive spire with its Art Deco sculptural aluminum wings and multi-story illuminated glazed lantern not only sealed the Empire’s status as the world’s tallest structure, it virtually defined the New York City skyline and created a beacon that would be an indelible icon for millions.


With major communications equipment relocated to the aperture on upper spire of the Empire State Building made available by repositioning and removal of abandoned broadcast equipment, Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) determined to remove obsolete antennas and dunnage located between floors 88 and 103 of the mooring mast and restore the condition and historic appearance of this prominent feature of the city’s most iconic structure.

The restoration project to return the building to its original silhouette began in June 2019 and is now in its final stages. The project included three main stages: antenna removal, mooring mast waterproofing, and dome waterproofing.


Antenna Removal
The Antenna Removal project includes the removal of 12 antenna, 4 ladders, 6 railings, 4 platforms, 1,500 abandoned plates, as well as miscellaneous transmission lines and broadcast equipment from the exterior of the building.


Penetrations from this equipment removal were patched with aluminum plates, custom casts, and bolt repairs throughout the Mast section of the building. Over 44,000lbs of equipment were removed from the building, decluttering the Mast and revealing a more streamlined building silhouette.


Mooring Mast Fin Waterproofing
The Mooring Mast Fin Waterproofing project covers the exterior waterproofing of the Mast Fins of the building. 223 aluminum plates, 3 custom aluminum casts, and 2,603 bolt repairs were installed to permanently waterproof miscellaneous perforations throughout the Fins.


After all penetrations were permanently sealed, all four Fins were scrubbed and power washed down to the original aluminum façade. For the first time in the building’s history, the entirety of each Fin is being uniformly coated with a silver waterproof paint, blending in the extensive repairs done to the building’s exterior.


Dome Waterproofing & 103rd Floor Door & Window Replacement
The Dome Waterproofing project encompasses the replacement of the existing exterior waterproofing membrane from the underside of the celebrity balcony on the 103rd floor to the base of the antenna spire. The original 103rd floor exterior door will be also be replaced, as well as an exterior window.


The Empire State Building’s Art Deco design has inspired visitors from around the world. With its soaring height and signature design, it defines the New York City skyline. The world’s most magnificent Art Deco skyscraper, it’s a living piece of New York history and an instantly recognizable symbol of city culture today.

Today, with its current restoration, it remains one of the world’s great towers and an unmatched architectural wonder.

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