People profile - Tom Hennes | attractionsmanagement.com
POST YOUR JOB ONLINE
Free ezine/digital edition sign up
Jobs   News   Features   Video    Products   Profiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise  
People profile
Tom Hennes

Principal and founder, Thinc Design


I went to the Empire State Building for the first time at the age of seven,” says Tom Hennes.

“I can remember building it out of wooden blocks before I visited, looking down at the street from the observation deck. I remember almost everything about that visit. It’s somewhere which holds a very dear place in my heart.”

Hennes, who has worked on museum and exhibition and museum design since the mid-90s, was handed the task of modernising the visitor experience at the Empire State Building in December 2016. His design firm Thinc led a collective of 13 different firms including Beneville Studios, IDEO and Squint/Opera on the project, which is part of a wider modernisation masterplan for the iconic landmark.

In addition to its views of New York, the Empire State Building now boasts a new entrance for its four million visitors each year, as well as a spectacular reimagining of its popular observatory experience.

“Going through the queue and getting up to the observation deck wasn’t very pleasant for visitors,” says Hennes. “They loved the building and the view, so were still coming in droves but the journey up was less than optimal.

“From start to finish, we made the whole thing experiential. The aim was to create memorable moments that visitors could hang onto, really treasure and really associate with the Empire State Building. It clearly had to involve its construction and its place in popular culture, but we wanted to look at life inside as well.”

Research showed that the majority of guests saw the building as a silhouette, which, as soon as they walked inside would ironically disappear. It’s something Hennes was aware of and addressed during the development process.

“We introduced beautiful photography and add a 24-foot high realistic model to the new entrance that lights up at night,” he says. “It’s set around a grand staircase that celebrates it and gives it a stage. The front end of the visitor experience really sets up the journey visitors go through, acknowledging the Empire State Building independent of the observatory itself.”

A pop culture icon
Among the galleries visitors can see a room showing the building in movies, commercials, TV shows video games and more. King Kong is also present, with his eyes peering menacingly through a set of 1930s windows, the gorilla’s fingers break through. There’s also a section showing famous visitors to the building and another showing a recreation of its original elevator cab and electrical control board which were installed in 1931.

The redevelopment and modernisation plan hasn’t been purely cosmetic. It’s also helped to improve visitor flow and even save money: “It brings the visitor experience in line with the quality of the rest of the building,” says Hennes. “It’s also a highly efficient design in every way and it speaks to the efficiency of the building. We’ve reduced its energy costs by more than 40 per cent with some really smart changes. By moving the entrance from Fifth Avenue to 34th Street, it gives a separate flow for the visitors to the observatory from the main entrance of the building, which improves the tenant experience as well as the visitor experience. Visitors still exit through the Fifth Avenue lobby, so they get to see it minus the congestion.”

The redevelopment has come at a cost of US$165m. The first phase – the relocation of the visitor entrance – was completed in August 2018. The second phase – the observatory – opened at the end of July this year. Phase three will be completed in September, with the reconstruction of the glassed-in 102nd-floor observation deck.

A project of love
More than just a project, the work carried out by Thinc on the building has real personal significance for Hennes: “Right after 9/11, I was down at Ground Zero one morning with a wheelbarrow, helping out, because like so many New Yorkers I just felt the need to somehow be part of that.

“At the time I was working on a tiny project inside the Empire State Building, so I travelled from Ground Zero covered in dust and went up to the Empire State Building. It was still closed because everybody was looking at new security measures to put in place.

“I got up to the 86th floor. It was completely empty and fog and clouds had closed around the building so I was completely isolated up there. I can’t quite describe the feeling but there it was standing there and there I was in it, alone, at a time when everything else was so strange and other-worldly and upside down. For me personally, coming back to it to do this project connected with that memory.

“At that time I had no idea we were also going to end up designing the 9/11 museum. Those feelings and those places are connected for me. One is a place of extraordinary tragedy and also revival that we spent eight years working in. The other is a beloved icon. I love seeing the building and knowing I’m working on it. It’s been a project of love for everybody involved.”

Thinc was the experience designer for the project, transforming the entire visitor experience from top to bottom
Experiences linked with the Empire State Building in popular culture are now a key part of the visitor experience
Experiences linked with the Empire State Building in popular culture are now a key part of the visitor experience
COMPANY PROFILES
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

ProSlide appoints Chantal Theoret as director of global marketing
ProSlide Technology has appointed Chantal Theoret as its new director of global marketing. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion: Meet the Team - Introduction
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Trailer Peter Pan - Saving Tinkerbell VR – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2019 – Red Raion
Trailer Pinocchio - A Modern Tale VR – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

18-22 Nov 2019

IAAPA Expo

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, United States
14-16 Jan 2020

EAG International

ExCel London Exhibition Centre, London,
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2019 issue 4


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2019 issue 3


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2019 issue 2


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management

2019 issue 1


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Management News

13 Nov 2019 issue 143


View on turning pages
Download PDF
View archive
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription

Attractions Handbook

2019


View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
FREE digital subscription
Print subscription
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019
Jobs   News   Products   Magazine
People profile
Tom Hennes

Principal and founder, Thinc Design


I went to the Empire State Building for the first time at the age of seven,” says Tom Hennes.

“I can remember building it out of wooden blocks before I visited, looking down at the street from the observation deck. I remember almost everything about that visit. It’s somewhere which holds a very dear place in my heart.”

Hennes, who has worked on museum and exhibition and museum design since the mid-90s, was handed the task of modernising the visitor experience at the Empire State Building in December 2016. His design firm Thinc led a collective of 13 different firms including Beneville Studios, IDEO and Squint/Opera on the project, which is part of a wider modernisation masterplan for the iconic landmark.

In addition to its views of New York, the Empire State Building now boasts a new entrance for its four million visitors each year, as well as a spectacular reimagining of its popular observatory experience.

“Going through the queue and getting up to the observation deck wasn’t very pleasant for visitors,” says Hennes. “They loved the building and the view, so were still coming in droves but the journey up was less than optimal.

“From start to finish, we made the whole thing experiential. The aim was to create memorable moments that visitors could hang onto, really treasure and really associate with the Empire State Building. It clearly had to involve its construction and its place in popular culture, but we wanted to look at life inside as well.”

Research showed that the majority of guests saw the building as a silhouette, which, as soon as they walked inside would ironically disappear. It’s something Hennes was aware of and addressed during the development process.

“We introduced beautiful photography and add a 24-foot high realistic model to the new entrance that lights up at night,” he says. “It’s set around a grand staircase that celebrates it and gives it a stage. The front end of the visitor experience really sets up the journey visitors go through, acknowledging the Empire State Building independent of the observatory itself.”

A pop culture icon
Among the galleries visitors can see a room showing the building in movies, commercials, TV shows video games and more. King Kong is also present, with his eyes peering menacingly through a set of 1930s windows, the gorilla’s fingers break through. There’s also a section showing famous visitors to the building and another showing a recreation of its original elevator cab and electrical control board which were installed in 1931.

The redevelopment and modernisation plan hasn’t been purely cosmetic. It’s also helped to improve visitor flow and even save money: “It brings the visitor experience in line with the quality of the rest of the building,” says Hennes. “It’s also a highly efficient design in every way and it speaks to the efficiency of the building. We’ve reduced its energy costs by more than 40 per cent with some really smart changes. By moving the entrance from Fifth Avenue to 34th Street, it gives a separate flow for the visitors to the observatory from the main entrance of the building, which improves the tenant experience as well as the visitor experience. Visitors still exit through the Fifth Avenue lobby, so they get to see it minus the congestion.”

The redevelopment has come at a cost of US$165m. The first phase – the relocation of the visitor entrance – was completed in August 2018. The second phase – the observatory – opened at the end of July this year. Phase three will be completed in September, with the reconstruction of the glassed-in 102nd-floor observation deck.

A project of love
More than just a project, the work carried out by Thinc on the building has real personal significance for Hennes: “Right after 9/11, I was down at Ground Zero one morning with a wheelbarrow, helping out, because like so many New Yorkers I just felt the need to somehow be part of that.

“At the time I was working on a tiny project inside the Empire State Building, so I travelled from Ground Zero covered in dust and went up to the Empire State Building. It was still closed because everybody was looking at new security measures to put in place.

“I got up to the 86th floor. It was completely empty and fog and clouds had closed around the building so I was completely isolated up there. I can’t quite describe the feeling but there it was standing there and there I was in it, alone, at a time when everything else was so strange and other-worldly and upside down. For me personally, coming back to it to do this project connected with that memory.

“At that time I had no idea we were also going to end up designing the 9/11 museum. Those feelings and those places are connected for me. One is a place of extraordinary tragedy and also revival that we spent eight years working in. The other is a beloved icon. I love seeing the building and knowing I’m working on it. It’s been a project of love for everybody involved.”

Thinc was the experience designer for the project, transforming the entire visitor experience from top to bottom
Experiences linked with the Empire State Building in popular culture are now a key part of the visitor experience
Experiences linked with the Empire State Building in popular culture are now a key part of the visitor experience
LATEST NEWS
New IAAPA chair Amanda Thompson targets progress on safety and sustainability
The development of a global safety standard for the attractions industry is high on the wish list of incoming IAAPA chair Amanda Thompson, whose tenure begins today (Tuesday 19 November).
IAAPA 2019: 40,0000 gather in Orlando for record-breaking attractions expo
More than 40,000 people from over 100 countries are descending on Orlando, Florida, ahead of the largest visitor attractions show of the year – the IAAPA Expo.
V&A appoints Gus Casely-Hayford as first director of V&A East
Gus Casely-Hayford, the British curator, cultural historian, broadcaster and lecturer, has been named as the inaugural director of V&A East – the museum's new expansion project scheduled to open in London in 2023.
Connecticut aquarium starts work on new seal display and 4D theatre
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is set to undergo expansion, with a large seal exhibit and 4D movie theatre to open at the attraction in 2020.
Immersive, sustainable and meeting evolving expectations – outgoing IAAPA chair David Rosenberg on the future of the attractions industry
It's been a busy, exciting and often inspiring year for David Rosenberg as IAAPA chair.
Six major art museums offer curatorial training to students from underrepresented backgrounds
Twelve new students have been enrolled in the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship programme, with the selected entrants to be given specialised training and mentoring from six high profile art museums in the US.
Rain-hit Q3 slows SeaWorld progress, but annual finances remain on track as new CEO is appointed
Unfavourable weather conditions, shifts in the calendar and an overspend on certain marketing activities, have all contributed to 'disappointing' Q3 financial results for SeaWorld.
Cedar Fair on course for 'best year' after Q3 results reflect 'strong' consumer demand
North American theme park operator Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which owns and operates 11 amusement parks and five water parks in the territory, has filed Q3 and year- to-date financial results that show increased revenues and Adjusted EBITDA, but reduced net income.
TEA award winner Railton partners with Scott Ault to create RED: Railton Entertainment Design
Entertainment Design Corporation, the design firm run by award-winning designer Jeremy Railton for 25 years, has changed its name to reflect his name and legacy, becoming known as RED (Railton Entertainment Design).
Merlin enters agreement to build a Legoland resort in Shanghai
Shanghai is to become a major theme park destination, with a proposed new Legoland park, expected to open after 2023, projected to be one of the largest Legoland Resorts in the world.
Triple Five eyes 'world's largest' shopping and entertainment complex in Saudi deal
Arabian Dream Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Triple Five Worldwide, which owns the three largest shopping and entertainment centres in North America, is to help develop what is being described as the world's largest such complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Puy du Fou signals further international expansion with China contract
French historical theme park Puy du Fou is continuing its international expansion, with the imminent signing of a contract to build a new attraction in China.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

ProSlide appoints Chantal Theoret as director of global marketing
ProSlide Technology has appointed Chantal Theoret as its new director of global marketing. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion: Meet the Team - Introduction
Red Raion is the CGI studio specialized in media based attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Trailer Peter Pan - Saving Tinkerbell VR – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2019 – Red Raion
Trailer Pinocchio - A Modern Tale VR – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

18-22 Nov 2019

IAAPA Expo

Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, United States
14-16 Jan 2020

EAG International

ExCel London Exhibition Centre, London,
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2019

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT NEWS
ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS