Forbes - Lifestyle

First Look: Summit One Vanderbilt Observatory Offers The Best Views In All Of New York

New Yorkers are used to extraordinary views, but they’ve never seen anything quite like this. On October 21st the city welcomes Summit One Vanderbilt, a sprawling 65,000 square-foot space occupying the top floors of Midtown Manhattan’s tallest skyscraper. Exclusive experiences will include an all-glass enclosed elevator which scales the exterior of the building—affording unfettered views 1,210 feet above the city—along with a fully transparent sky box that juts out over Madison Avenue. Adjoining the hair-raising thrills is a bonafide dining destination. We’ve got your advanced look at what to expect, especially when it comes to all things food and beverage.

The soaring, $3.3 billion dollar development across the street from Grand Central Terminal already made news in the culinary world back in 2019. That’s when Michelin starred chef Daniel Boulud announced he’d be launching his own seafood restaurant at the base of the 1,401-foot tower. Nearly two years later, Le Pavillon is finally set to open on May 19.

One thousand feet above, the star of the show will be Aprés, a cafe and bar with an assortment of artfully-rendered kiosks strategically positioned both inside the skydeck and skirting the edges of the gravity-defying patio. The fare will include “elevated snacks” (naturally), conceived by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events. The Shake Shack impresario promises a menu combining global flavors with New York City influences to form something special for travelers and locals alike.

“Union Square Events is elated to have been selected as the culinary partner for Summit One Vanderbilt,” said Meyer in a written statement. “Our team is proud to add additional flavor to this thrilling new destination that will place a resounding exclamation point on New York City’s renaissance.”


Cocktail fans will also be in for a treat, as not just one, but a trio of backbars will be scattered across the multi-level landscape. Each one will showcase signature arrangements birthed by marquee names from the city’s vast and vibrant mixology scene. A dedicated wine bar will serve pours next to an interior garden billed as an “elevated alpine meadow.”

The overarching design concept of Summit One Vanderbilt is the brainchild of Snøhetta. The Oslo-based firm worked with the building’s developer, SL Green Realty Corp, to engender what they call a journey through light, sound, and art as you ascend from the 90th floor and eventually up to the exterior space on level 93.

“In addition to the exciting artistic works, Snøhetta has created an elegant interior design that naturally guides visitors through an uplifting experience. From the spacious and calm entrance hall to the dramatic lobbies above, Snøhetta has designed a continuous yet evolving adventure,” says the firms founder, Craig Dykers. “This culminates with the landscape design of one of the world’s highest gardens at the top of The Summit. Each space is sensitively considered to ensure the optimum experience within a changing dynamic as one is transported from the ground to the sky and back.”

At 1,020 feet, that top deck will only be the fourth-highest observatory in the city. Standing just above it is the Empire State Building at 1,050, Edge at 30 Hudson Yards at 1,100 feet, and One World Trade Center—which is entirely indoors at 1,250 feet. Yet One Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned amid Manhattan. It allows vantage points on all five boroughs, the Statue of Liberty, and well up into the Hudson River Valley. And when you’re atop the Empire State, you don’t get to enjoy the view of the building itself. Here, a bird’s-eye view of the city’s most iconic structure is front and center.

Positioned amongst such lofty architectural heights, there’s a strong case to be made for this being the ultimate urban view on the planet. But one thing is without dispute: there’s never been more opportunities to enjoy the New York skyline from the top looking down. Come autumn, One Vanderbilt will add a stunning exclaimation to this point.

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