Empire State Building

Empire State Building
  1. About the Empire State Building in New York
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Empire State Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed in 1929 by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built between 1930 and 1931, for a reported $40.9 million dollars, in New York, NY.

Its precise street address is 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. You can also find it on the map here.

The Empire State Building is a structure of significant importance both for the city of New York and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Empire State Building was officially declared as a national landmark on June 24th 1986, and was also included in the New York Register of Historic Places on May 19th 1981.

At the time of its completion in 1931 the Empire State Building incorporated solutions that were quite advanced at the time, these included the world's first FM transmitter installed by RCA through an antenna located on the building's mast.

The building has been restored 5 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1979, 1990, 2009, 2010 and 2019.

Building's timeline

Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
Added to the New York RHP
Declared NL
years ago
  1. 1979 - Restoration of observatory decks.
  2. 1990 - Windows replacements, revision of alarm systems, air conditioning and renovation of elevators.
  3. 2009 - Lobby restoration and systems update.
  4. 2010 - Energy efficiency improvements.
  5. 2018 to 2019 - Revision of the antenna anchoring system, as well as spaces and technological advancements added to the observatory decks.

Architect and team

Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Established in 1929 in New York City by William F. Lamb, Arthur Loomis Harmon, and Richmond Shreve, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was a prominent American architectural firm that left a lasting impact on the architectural landscape of the early 20th century.

They contributed significantly to the evolution of skyscraper design during a transformative era in American architecture, until the late 80s when they ceased to operate.

The firm's architectural style embodied the Art Deco movement at first, and then evolved into a more modern, international style.

Even though the Empire State is their most iconic project (it’s hard to beat when it comes to architectural icons!) their legacy extends well beyond any single structure, with over two dozen projects built in Manhattan alone.

Shreve, Lamb & Harmon was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Empire State Building a reality:

  • Homer Gage Balcom in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Starrett Brothers and Eken as the Main Contractor
  • Otis as the company in charge of the elevators system
  • Empire State Inc, John J. Raskov and Al Smith as the Main Developer
  • Leif Neandross, Roy Sparkia and Renée Nemorov as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Empire State Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Empire State Building was completed in 1931, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Empire State Building reaches an architectural height of 1250ft (381m), 1453ft (443m) if you count the antenna, with the last accesible floor being 1224ft (373m) off the gorund. It has a total of 104 floors, 102 above ground and 2 basements, served by 73 elevators. In total, it has a built-up area of 2,738,175 sqf (254,385m2) offering 2,248,353 sqf (208,879m2) of usable space.

If you want to get a nice view of New York the Empire State Building offers an observatory deck. You can plan your visit to the Empire State Building observatory deck by visiting its website here.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1931, the Empire State Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

1453ft (443m)
1250ft (381m)
1224ft (373m)
2 basements

Materials & Structure

The Empire State Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a light-colored Indiana limestone cladding on most of the facade, with modern stainless steel canopies over the two entrances, black granite on ground level, triple pane glass and metal grills over the main doors and up to the third level and aluminum frames for the first floor windows and doors.

Other materials found at the Empire State Building include, bronze, used for ornamental elements, marble, found on the lobby walls, terrazzo, used in zigzag patterns on floors, and aluminum, used in some reliefs.


  • npgallery.nps.gov
  • s-media.nyc.gov