For the world's skyscrapers, it's not enough to be the tallest. They often have to be the techiest in order to lure the tourist dollars up to their observation decks.
The tourists are more sophisticated than they used to be. "They're not just tech savvy, they're starving for more in-depth information and they want it available at the tip of their fingers," said Jean-Yves Ghazi, the Empire State Building's observatory director.
The year-old The View from The Shard in London has telescopes designed by NASA, interactive panels that call up views from different eras, and Google Earth-style maps that let visitors tap on any building to see what they're seeing far down below, spokeswoman Ana Karina Araque said. "We wanted to bring that view to life."
When the visitor decks open next year atop New York's One World Trade Center, technology "will to play a central role in the experience of the observatory," said Eric Gelfand, senior vice president of communications for Legends, the company that will operate the space. "It isn't just about an elevator ride and a view, it's about a story."
One World Observatory, which expects to attract 3.5 million visitors annually, is now scheduled to open in spring 2015 on floors 100 to 102 (approximately 1,250 feet above street level) of the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere. The space will include several dining options, interactive exhibits and a "See Forever" theater showing a movie about New York. There will also be a multimedia gallery highlighting the building's engineering. Also: "the fastest elevator in the world" that will take guests to the 102nd floor in 60 seconds.