Announced nearly a decade ago as part of the $25 billion Hudson Yards mega-development on Manhattan’s far West Side, The Edge debuted on March 11 as the highest outdoor deck in the Western Hemisphere.
Speaking at the opening, a senior executive from co-developer Oxford Properties noted how much “the world changes” over the course of such long-term construction endeavors.
How prescient he was. Two days later, The Edge suspended operations because of COVID-19. Since then, all public events and non-essential gatherings have been halted across New York City and beyond, including neighboring Long Island.
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When business resumes, The Edge and other new and classic outdoor, rooftop and high-altitude event venues will have both destinations in take-off position for sky-high celebrations. Here are the venues planners should consider when looking ahead to future New York City and Long Island meetings.
Changing the Manhattan Meetings Perspective
Rising nearly 1,300 feet tall, 30 Hudson Yards is New York City’s second tallest office tower after One World Trade Center. Located on the 100th floor close to the building’s apex, The Edge’s 7,500-square-foot deck extends nearly 80 feet outwards into the sky and 1,131 feet above street level. Framed by outward-angled glass panels, the platform, which includes a glass floor, offers unparalleled 80-mile panoramic views.
Overlooking The Edge’s deck from the 101st floor, Peak incorporates a 110-seat restaurant, 45-seat bar, cocktail lounge and 595-capacity event space.
Dizzying, too, was Oakland, California-based vertical dance group Bandaloop, whose aerial performers pirouetted on ropes attached to the skyscraper’s pinnacle during The Edge’s opening celebration in early March.
By design, The Edge “gestures directly” at the Empire State Building in homage to the Gotham landmark, which features an open-air 86th-floor deck and newly renovated 102nd-floor indoor observation deck.
Photo: The Edge sunset; Courtesy of Related-Oxford
At Rockefeller Center, groups can also experience events at great heights, taking VIP tours of Top of the Rock, the 70th-floor observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Center and hold events at storied spaces such as the Rainbow Room.
Adjacent to Grand Central Terminal, the new $3.1 billion One Vanderbilt tower topped out in September 2019 as Midtown’s tallest office building, at 1,401 feet tall. Presently targeting completion by the end of 2020, public spaces reportedly include an outdoor/indoor observation deck at 1,020 feet and 11,000-square-foot restaurant and private dining space from celebrated chef-restaurateur Daniel Boulud.
A Lower Manhattan aerie highlight is the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center, featuring One World Observatory and 450-capacity ASPIRE event space. Planners can also book the 86th-floor TWA Lounge, sibling of the event-capable TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport, visible some 13 miles away.
The cuisine and cocktails match the breathtaking 60th-floor views at Manhatta in the Financial District, part of celebrated restaurateur Danny Meyer’s dining empire.
Event spaces in the reimagined Seaport District include The Rooftop at Pier 17. Extending 300 feet into the East River, this five-story venue offers 65,000 square feet of scenic outdoor space for 3,400-capacity events.
Outer Borough Orbits
Located on the Downtown Brooklyn waterfront, 195-room 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is a LEED-certified “nature-inspired” boutique offering 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Unique venues for events onsite include Harriet’s Rooftop, featuring an indoor cocktail lounge and outdoor deck with unobstructed Brooklyn Bridge and city views.
Offering 3,000 square feet of raw space, The Foundry updates a 19th-century industrial building in Long Island City with compelling spaces including an ivy-draped rooftop terrace with Queensboro Bridge and Manhattan skyline views.
Photo: Wave Hill, overlooking the Hudson River; Credit: Wave Hill
Featuring beautiful public gardens, Wave Hill is a serene treasure from 1843 in the Bronx. Overlooking the Hudson River, the 28-acre clifftop property can accommodate 175-capacity conferences and events.
Set within 415 acres of protected woodland, the conveniently accessible 198-room Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island offers 32,000 square feet of total meeting space, including the 10,000-square-foot Nicotra’s Ballroom and scenic indoor/outdoor Above Rooftop event venue.
Long Island Reaches for the Stars
Along with its famed beaches, wine industry and agriculture, Long Island is celebrated as the “cradle of aviation” for its illustrious heritage of air and space innovation and exploration.
Examples include the Apollo 11 lunar module, which came from the Grumman Corporation, then in Bethpage. Today, the original Lunar Module Mission Simulator is among the many uplifting exhibits at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, which flexibly hosts events for up to 10,000 attendees.
(Photo: Caption: Apollo Lunar Module at Cradle of Aviation Museum; Credit: Cradle of Aviation Museum)
Also represented is Pan American World Airways, which launched its B-314 Flying Boats, the fabled seaplanes that pioneered trans-oceanic flight, from the Pan Am Hangar in Port Washington.
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On May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh departed from Roosevelt Field on the world's first trans-Atlantic flight. The night before, he stayed at the Garden City Hotel. Today, this 269-room AAA Four Diamond property offers 30,000-plus square feet of versatile space.
Unique reception venues at the 43-acre waterfront Vanderbilt Museum, Mansion and Planetarium complex in Centerport include the 60-foot domed Reichert Planetarium. Groups can also convene in the courtyard of the Spanish Revival mansion and tour the preserved marine collection in the 1922 Hall of Fishes.
Javits Center Expansion Details and Focus on Healthy Living
Two weeks before The Edge opening, I took a hardhat tour of the in-progress $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, one block away. One month later, by order of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the nation’s busiest convention center was converted into a makeshift field hospital with 2,500 beds.
This extraordinary COVID-19 response finds unforeseen kinship with the building’s core focus on healthy living.
Photo: Javits Center's expansion includes an outdoor terrace and glass-enclosed rooftop pavilion; Courtesy of Javits Center
Alan Steel is president & CEO of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, which runs the Javits Center. As he explained during the tour, the expansion, which adds 1.2 million square feet of event-related space, is at heart an investment in sustainability.
“More than just a convention venue that supports the local economy, the Javits Center’s mission is to improve the environment for all living things around us,” Steel said.
Advancing sustainability and energy initiatives in development over the last six years, eco-innovations at the convention center include:
- Installed in 2014, the venue’s 6.75-acre green roof, second largest in the nation, currently supports 29 bird and five bat species. Plus, thousands of honeybees in five hives that supply Jacob’s Honey and pollinate local flora. The roof has lowered the building’s heat influx and the neighborhood’s overall temperature. More than 4,000 solar panels are planned for the roof, covering the HVAC units.
- The new one-acre rooftop farm, managed by Brooklyn Grange, is expected to grow 40,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables annually for the Javits’ kitchen.
- Translucent, frittered façade glass has virtually eliminated bird collisions.
- The new 480,000 square-foot, four-level truck marshaling facility, along with 27 new loading docks, takes 20,000 trucks off local streets and reduces carbon emissions and noise pollution.
“Our forefront consideration is keeping the ecosystem of the city healthy,” Steel said.
Announcing a target opening date of March 2021 (a date set before COVID-19), venue expansion highlights include:
- 90,000 square feet of new prime exhibit space, for 500,000 square feet of contiguous space on one level.
- 107,000 square feet of new meeting room space, including the fifth-floor 54,000 square-foot special event space, largest in the Northeast, featuring dramatic glassed-in Midtown, Hudson Yards and Hudson River views.
- 1,500-capacity rooftop pavilion and terrace.
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