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Otis Completes Elevator Modernization for Empire State Building

By Ken Briodagh

Otis recently delivered and installed a custom-made glass elevator to carry visitors to the Empire State Building’s newly renovated 102nd floor Observatory, according to a recent announcement. The installation completes one of the largest and most complex modernization projects that Otis has undertaken in its 166-year history, the company said.

Otis said it designed the glass elevator, which is an Otis Gen2 unit with steel-reinforced flat belts in place of conventional steel cables, to deliver a smooth, quiet ride and enhance the experience of visitors to the 102nd floor Observatory, while enhancing the intelligent power management of the historic building.

Otis engineered and installed the Empire State Building’s original elevators in 1931 – the fastest and most advanced of their day. Eighty years later, Empire State Realty Trust entrusted Otis with the system’s modernization.

“We’re proud to have a decades-long relationship with this extraordinary landmark and help them realize their goal of a one-of-a-kind observatory destination,” said Tom Vining, President, Otis Americas. “We had a shared vision to create an unforgettable passenger experience, while improving the elevators’ energy efficiency. We’re excited to see our technology come together, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to the top of one of the world’s most famous buildings.”

The modernization, which began in 2011, is set up to save time and energy, boosting overall efficiency, according to the release. With Otis ReGen drive regenerative technology, the modernized elevator system uses 50 to 75 percent less energy than the original system. Regenerative technology captures energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat and returns it to the building’s power grid for use by other systems. Otis’ CompassPlus intelligent dispatching technology gets passengers to their destination 50 percent faster during peak travel periods than the original system.

“Our 102nd floor Observatory is a key aspect of our newly reimagined visitor experience,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, President, Empire State Building Observatory. “The all-glass mast car was custom-made at our request to make a visit to the 102nd floor simply unforgettable. We knew Otis would help bring our vision to life and we have enjoyed working with them to create this modern work of art.”


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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