People profile - Tom Hennes | attractionsmanagement.com
GET ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital edition of Attractions Management and the FREE weekly Attractions Management ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
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
QubicaAMF UK

QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider with 600 employees worldwi [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
IDEATTACK

IDEATTACK is a full-service planning and design company with headquarters in Los Angeles. [more...]
FORREC Ltd

We create guest experiences others don’t, masterplan like no one else can, and give the world’s bi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Triotech and Benoit Cornet’s Bold Move to collaborate on breakthrough innovative media-based attractions
Triotech has announced a breakthrough alliance with Benoit Cornet and Bold Move to bring a new collaborative approach to the design of media-based attractions – with an emphasis on adding value for operators. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Animalive - Introducing AnimaChat!
Introducing AnimaChat, one operator can live-stream into multiple venues. Find out more...
More videos:
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

05-07 May 2021

TEA SATE Europe 2020

PortAventura World, Tarragona, Spain
09 Jun 2021

IAAPA Expo Asia 2021

The Venetian Macao, Macao, China
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

Attractions Management

2021 issue 1


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

Attractions Management

2020 issue 1


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

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 News

06 Apr 2020 issue 153


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
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021
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
MuseumNext launches digital income summit to help attractions tap into new revenue streams
A new event will offer museums and attractions actionable advice on how they can better use technology to boost their income.
Berlin's new Exile Museum set for 2025 opening
A new museum telling the stories of the people exiled from Germany by the Nazi regime is set to open in Berlin in 2025.
Disney reveals concept designs for upcoming Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea
Disney has unveiled three videos showing parts of the concept model for Fantasy Springs, a new themed port set to open at Tokyo DisneySea Park in 2023.
Therme Group invests in experiential art company Superblue
Global wellbeing organisation Therme Group has become a strategic investor in experiental art company Superblue.
Plans approved for huge The Arc viewing platform in Bristol
Plans have been approved for a major new visitor attraction in Bristol, UK.
Disney adds inclusion to its key values, allows staff to wear jewellery and display tattoos
Disney has added a fifth "key" to its famous set of values which have guided its approach to guest service for more than 65 years.
Herschend Enterprises acquires Vancouver Aquarium
Herschend Enterprises has acquired Vancouver Aquarium from the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, adding the attraction to the group's growing portfolio of properties.
'Mind-blowing' experiential art space Superblue opens its doors in Miami
Experiential art company Superblue has launched its first venue in Miami, US.
Sauna trance: art and sauna bathing collide at mesmerising new Tokyo art exhibition
Global art collective teamLab has combined art and sauna to offer an immersive exhibition in Roppongi, Tokyo, called teamLab & TikTok, teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna Roppongi.
Skåne Zoo launches glamping experience for 2021
Skånes Djurpark zoo in southern Sweden is launching a glamping experience for guests this year.
You can now enter the World Leisure Innovation Prize
World Leisure Organization (WLO) has opened the entry process for its International Innovation Prize.
Is Disney planning pop-up attractions with its 'new experience development' department?
Disney Imagineers could be planning on launching pop-up experiences in the US – and potentially around the world.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
QubicaAMF UK

QubicaAMF is the largest and most innovative bowling equipment provider with 600 employees worldwi [more...]
Antonio Zamperla Spa

Founded in 1966, the Antonio Zamperla SPA is privately owned by Mr Alberto Zamperla. Located in Vi [more...]
IDEATTACK

IDEATTACK is a full-service planning and design company with headquarters in Los Angeles. [more...]
FORREC Ltd

We create guest experiences others don’t, masterplan like no one else can, and give the world’s bi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Triotech and Benoit Cornet’s Bold Move to collaborate on breakthrough innovative media-based attractions
Triotech has announced a breakthrough alliance with Benoit Cornet and Bold Move to bring a new collaborative approach to the design of media-based attractions – with an emphasis on adding value for operators. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Animalive - Introducing AnimaChat!
Introducing AnimaChat, one operator can live-stream into multiple venues. Find out more...
More videos:
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

05-07 May 2021

TEA SATE Europe 2020

PortAventura World, Tarragona, Spain
09 Jun 2021

IAAPA Expo Asia 2021

The Venetian Macao, Macao, China
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021

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