One World Observatory – on a clear day, you can even see tomorrow

The view from the top of One World Trade Center is truly spectacular. But so is the technology that brings visitors up there – and the building on which it is perched.

As an ever-greater percentage of the Earth’s people cluster into cities, the only way to grow is upward. But is there a way to merge the interests of our environment with the dizzying heights of urban growth? Since buildings are said to be responsible for 40% of the world’s energy consumption, a key strategy toward the smart cities of the future will be to enable energy self-sufficiency in buildings, including reducing energy usage in their mobility solutions. 

One World Trade Center is a prime example of how this can work.

Beacons of urban sustainability – Today’s urban city planning creates future beacons for cities which convey the new messages of sustainability, green choices and living responsibly.

Published on 29.05.2015

Welcome to the One World Observatory

High up, near the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the One World Observatory at One World Trade Center is opening its doors for the first time this month with a series of pre-view events. From 29 May, the general public as well may visit and enjoy the unique panoramic views that the observatory offers of New York City and its most famous sites.

Visitors to the observatory are treated to an elaborate array of experiences. Thoughtfully crafted exhibits provide an opportunity for learning and reflection, within the historical narrative of where they stand. And of course, there is the main event, the 360 degree panorama so iconic of urban life: New York City itself. A variety of dining options are also available, including a sit-down restaurant, to encourage guests to take their time, and relax. 

Like the venue, anticipation and curiosity are high. One World Observatory has already been named one of the world’s hottest new travel experiences for 2015 by the travel gurus at Lonely Planet. But as visitors are whisked from the ground level to the 102nd floor at speeds upm to 23 mph (37 km/h), they are also participating in a bold leap into the future of sustainability.


In less than a minute, guests arrive at the One World Observatory. On the way, they have experienced more than 500 years of New York history, as the elevator walls come alive with a time-lapse panorama of Manhattan over the decades. Watch it here.

“It is more imperative than ever that the choices we make today about developing our cities are sustainable ones. With buildings responsible for 40% of the world’s energy consumption and vertical mobility a major contributor to this figure, passenger transport technologies have a key role to play in building sustainable smart cities of the future.”

Andreas Schierenbeck

Chairman of the Board, thyssenkrupp Elevator

Setting a green benchmark

The view offered at the top of One World Trade Center is open for all to see. However, what many visitors may miss is that this is one of the greenest large buildings in the world. The 3 million square feet of One World Trade Center are packed with energy-saving technologies. But sustainability at One World Trade Center is not simply a supplement to traditional architectural design. It is actually a new form of building construction, where the latest in high technology is incorporated into a cutting-edge building management system. The result is a holistic model for how to deal with the urban demands of tomorrow.

Specific pieces of this model include many commonly known measures, such as energy-efficient windows, interior daylighting and recycled construction materials. But there’s more, including such uncommon elements as the use and repurposing of rainwater and the recycling of waste steam. There’s also a unique water condenser system connected to the Hudson River that cools much of One World Trade Center and the state-of-the-art transportation hub underneath, designed to accommodate 250,000 commuters each day.

Certified Gold for New Construction 2.2 by LEED – the independent green building organization that identifies best-in-class building practices – One World Trade Center is clearly recognized as a place where tenants and visitors are pioneering sustainable solutions for a vertical future. Even if they can’t see it, it’s there.

Sustaining the future growth of cities with technology

Saving and generating energy

If the beating heart of One World Trade Center is sustainable building technology, then the systems used to move people through it are its arteries. And here, too, sustainability is built-in. For instance, the elevators are lit by LED lights, which save more than 78,000 kWh annually compared to halogen bulbs.

Meanwhile, the exteriors of the elevator cabs use special aluminum shrouds to deflect the air in the shaft. This increases the aerodynamics and allows the cabs to travel at a breathtaking 2,000 feet per minute. Even better, the same technology that allows for such speed also decreases the overall use of energy.

Visitors on their way down again from the One World Observatory will likely be processing memories of what they’ve just experienced. So it’s not entirely necessary they also know that environmentally friendly regenerative drives are recapturing the elevator’s unused energy as it slows, and returning it to the building’s electrical system.

“Elevators can also operate as power generators. Regenerative drives use energy created when the cabins slow down and feed that back into the building’s power grid. In the case of the thyssenkrupp elevators used in the new One World Trade Center, the energy generated through elevator use is enough to feed the lighting system of the entire building.”

Andreas Schierenbeck

Chairman of the Board, thyssenkrupp Elevator

“The sheer magnitude of One World Trade Center posed unique vertical transportation and structural engineering challenges which required thoughtful engineering solutions.”

Richard Hussey

President & CEO of thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas

People-centric innovation

Ultimately, it is people who should benefit most from the new technologies of sustainability. Some of these are more evident than others. One example greets visitors to the One World Observatory at the entrance to the elevators. There, Destination Dispatch technology silently and smoothly directs passengers towards their designated elevators. Wait times are minimized, crowd sizes are reduced, and security enhanced, to ensure a more pleasant journey for everyone.

Once in the elevator, passengers may be too excited to remark on the minimized cab vibration provided by advanced active roller guides. And they may be too enthralled by the story unfolding on the floor-to-ceiling screens on their elevator walls to notice the reduction in exterior noise made possible by customized acoustic dampening. But perhaps that’s the point of good technology: it should make things better for people without obviously interfering with their lives.

Buy a ticket – see the future

29 May marks the opening of One World Observatory, and the inauguration of a new world landmark for New York City. Tickets are available in several different categories, including discounts for children, seniors, schools and community groups. In addition, complimentary admission is available to family members who lost their loved ones on 9/11, and to rescue and recovery workers who responded on 9/11 and the ensuing months.

One World Trade Center was originally conceived as a symbol of the resilience of the human spirit. But it has fast evolved into a potent symbol of how humanity can rise to the challenges of growing urban populations through dramatically increased energy efficiency.

Prepare to be amazed by the sights and your experience of One World Observatory. But on your way there, take a look around. Try to spot evidence of the technology of the future. Soon, it will be a part of everyone’s urban life.


What is it like at the top? What is it like to get there? Take a virtual journey from the ground level to the One World Observatory and see for yourself. Enjoy the trip!