Repairs and Reopening Planned for a Rockefeller Center Roof
By ANDREA ELLIOTT
Seventeen years after Rockefeller Center closed the historic observation decks atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, developers plan to renovate the space and reopen it to the public, pending city approval.
The decks, which first opened to sightseers in 1933, rise as high as 850 feet above street level, offering panoramic views from the top two floors of the Art Deco building known as the RCA and more recently the G.E. Building. They were closed in 1986 when expansion of the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor cut off elevator access to them.
"This was one of the great attractions of Rockefeller Center historically," said Robert J. Speyer, senior managing director of Tishman Speyer Properties, one of the center's owners. "It ought to be restored and reopened for the world to see."
If approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the project would be scheduled for completion in fall 2005, Mr. Speyer said. He would not comment on the cost of the project. A public hearing before the commission is set for Nov. 25.
"The whole thing is very exciting," said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the commission. "Rockefeller Center is such a gem and has such historical significance that we will look at this very, very carefully."
Because the building is a historic landmark — one of about 1,200 in the city — any plan to renovate it must be found appropriate by the commission, Mr. Tierney said.
"We look at the history of the landmark, the aesthetics," he said. "All kinds of factors come into play."
The proposal calls for a ground-floor entrance on West 50th Street. Elevators would lead to the 67th floor, which would feature a combination of food and retail services, and an observation deck encased by windows, Mr. Speyer said.
From there, visitors would be able to take escalators to the open-air observation deck on the 69th floor, where they would be greeted with views of Central Park. They would then be able to climb the stairs or take an elevator up a floor to another open deck for a 360-degree view that includes the Empire State Building, Times Square and the Hudson River.
The renovation plan includes restoring decorative limestone and cast aluminum fleur-de-lis panels, and installing new terra cotta tiles on some floors in the same size and color as the original tiles.
In recent years, the 67th floor was used as storage space, and the uppermost part of the building was closed.
"We are set to restore it back to its original use," Mr. Speyer said. "When you take over a landmark like Rockefeller Center, you want to strike a balance between restoration and innovation, and we think this plan threads that needle."