For any detail to make a difference in architectural design, even the smallest ones need to have a functional purpose. The brilliant minds behind One Vanderbilt, one of the newest Manhattan landmark buildings, understood this fact. The tallest building in midtown Manhattan resembles a flower opening its petals to the sun; and on its top three floors, SUMMIT, a multisensory art installation, offers the best views of the NYC skyline and the surrounding landscape.
With such an incredible lookout, SUMMIT had to ensure that its interior was as memorable and transformative as its surroundings. This is how that was accomplished.
Even before entering the physical space, you meet with the first of many details that turn some of the most mundane functional features into points of interest. Rise, the high-speed elevators that take visitors from the Grand Central Terminal level to the top of SUMMIT, is very different from the elevators that you find in a typical office building. Mesmerizing lights and sounds transform the ride up into a multisensory experience, preparing you to enter the journey of SUMMIT, where art, architecture, and technology intersect to create a totally unique, perception-altering experience.
Upon reaching the 91st floor, you emerge from the perception-altering experience of Rise into the Hall of Light, where soothing, shifting colors and ambient sounds prelude the borderless, mirrored world of Transcendence I. Here, the NYC skyline can be seen from an entirely different perspective, merging together with your reflection and the sky itself to produce a dreamy otherworld seemingly without limitations. Even the escalators that connect this space with the next level, Transcendence II, have a hidden detail: one of the most interesting views of the Chrysler Building in the city.
But the real beauty in the design details is what you don’t notice, or what you notice only on a subconscious level: the continuity and connectivity of often underutilized spaces in skyscraper architectural design.
Bathrooms, staircases, hallways, and other transitional spaces of SUMMIT come complete with carefully curated art pieces, installations, and idiosyncratic perspectives of common, everyday spaces. Each of these areas is a visual destination worth experiencing by itself. The art in architecture can be found when you arrive at a harmonious balance between purpose and aesthetics.
In fact, thanks to viral YouTuber Casey Neistat, the one-of-a-kind bathrooms at SUMMIT have gone viral: He tweeted that they’re the best bathrooms he’s ever been to, offering some of the best views of the NYC skyline anywhere. Where else in the world can you get an incredible view of a globally celebrated city from the bathroom sink? Truly, every space in SUMMIT was designed to delight and inspire.
When some of the most mundane of spaces are seen as canvases, opportunities to tell stories, depict local culture, or simply celebrate the building’s identity become more apparent. This goes beyond aesthetics — such a cohesive approach to architectural design can also help spark creativity, expand the imagination, enhance your mood, and even reinforce a sense of belonging. If you were to apply this approach to an office space, it has the potential of adding another layer: greater productivity, efficiency, camaraderie, morale, well-being, and more.
More than a few companies have used this art in architecture principle to their advantage. For example, Steve Jobs famously designed the Pixar office to be as collaborative and aesthetically timeless as possible, bringing all employees under one roof and around a central, socialization-encouraging atrium. Google and Apple are equally admired for their devotion to psycho-architectural harmony.
It took a profound understanding of spatial psychology, in addition to all the other aspects of architecture, art, and design, to create the SUMMIT experience. Art, colors, sound, materials, and a host of other elements can influence how you interact with any given space, making it feel larger, more comforting, more inviting, and more thrilling all at the same time. This is why every aspect of SUMMIT, down to the last wall you encounter upon leaving, is unique.
With this kind of attention to detail, the blend of art, architecture, and technology at SUMMIT makes for a dynamic destination where every visit will evoke a new sense of awe and wonder. With a commitment to constant innovation and creativity, you can confidently expect an ongoing journey of awe-inspiring encounters that will draw you back for years to come.
Whether it’s architecture, NYC arts and culture, or some combination in between, details matter. They help ensure that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts, even more so when you take the time and energy to explore the purpose of those details and incorporate them throughout. That’s what makes SUMMIT a one-of-a-kind, must-do experience.