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Professional Circle Talk: Restoring the Crown of the Empire State Building

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About the Event

Professional Circle Talk: Restoring the Crown of the Empire State Building

December 7, 2022
9:00 – 10:00 am

103 W 29th Street, 5th Floor, Manhattan


The New York Landmarks Conservancy is very pleased to offer its Professional Circle members an exclusive illustrated talk with CANY principal Jarrett Huddleston and studio lead Julie Foster about the firm’s ongoing restoration of the Empire State Building’s mooring mast.

CANY was contracted in June of 2019 to remove decommissioned antennas from the Empire State Building’s mooring mast and restore the cast aluminum cladding and upper dome. Once the base scope of eight antennas was complete, an additional four 10-15-foot decommissioned antennas were removed. At each antenna location, the associated dunnage, conduits, steel support plates, and anchor plates were also taken down, and the penetrations were repaired.

After completion of initial construction in 1931, and a brief run as a dirigible docking station, the mooring mast aluminum was exposed to the elements for thirty-one years, resulting in the formation of a stable, dull-grey oxidation layer. In the 1960s, an alkyd-based aluminum flake paint was applied to improve the appearance. Almost 60 years later, the coating had significantly weathered, and subsequent removal of mesh antennas had left large areas of unpainted original aluminum exposed, creating large dark-grey patches, marring the appearance of the mast. As the final step in the restoration process, the newly restored and waterproofed cladding is being properly cleaned and prepped and the mast is fully coated with a historically-compatible alkyd-based aluminum flake paint to prevent further oxidation and reestablish the original appearance of the cast aluminum.

As the Mooring Mast Restoration Project nears completion, work will begin on restoring and waterproofing the upper balcony and dome. The project scope includes the removal of the existing membrane at the top of the dome (applied as a waterproofing measure in the 1990s) and restoration of the historic cast aluminum and chromium steel substrate. Work will include uncovering and restoring the original porthole windows at the top of the dome, waterproofing installation at the parapet and balcony surfaces, and replacement of the existing access door and principal window at the 103rd-floor exterior observation level – the “Faye Wray balcony” from the original “King Kong”.

Contact Carla Elio at carlaeilo@nylandmarks.org or 212-995-5260, with any questions.

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