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
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
IAAPA EMEA

IAAPA Expo Europe is owned and produced by IAAPA, The Global Association for the Attractions Industr [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Healthy appetite for investment at EAG International 2020
A buoyant EAG International has welcomed in the new decade as a well-rounded event with high levels of optimism and positivity on the show floor. [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:
Jurassic War - Immersive tunnel movie trailer – Red Raion
Trailer Pinocchio - A Modern Tale VR – Red Raion
Online Print Made Easy! – instantprint
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

06-08 Apr 2020

World Travel Market Africa

Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
08 Oct 2020

VAC 2020 (The Annual National Conference of Visitor Attractions)

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
LATEST ISSUES
+ View Magazine Archive

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

2019 issue 2


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

©Cybertrek 2020
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
Getty Museum challenges followers to recreate works of art at home
Staff at the Getty Museum have come up with a novel way to engage with their visitors during the ongoing pandemic – by asking them to recreate famous works of art at home.
Merlin postpones opening of Legoland New York to 2021
Merlin Entertainments has announced that its upcoming Legoland resort in New York, US, will now open in 2021.
Mary Rose Museum faces £2.2m funding shortfall as chief calls for increased independent museum support during COVID-19 crisis
Helen Bonser-Wilton, CEO of Portsmouth's Mary Rose Museum, says the attraction, along with the rest of Britain's independent museums are in "mortal peril" unless the government and heritage organisations act soon.
Expo 2020 Dubai likely to postpone until 2021 due to COVID-19 outbreak
Expo 2020 Dubai has announced that it will likely postpone the event by a year in the wake of the COVD-19 outbreak.
U-turn in Shanghai as reopened attractions close again
After reopening a number of indoor attractions in Shanghai, China, after new coronavirus cases in the city dropped to zero, officials have ordered those attractions to close again, following a surge of new cases coming from overseas.
Iger forgoes salary and Chapek takes pay cut as Disney wrestles with COVID-19
Disney's executive chair Bob Iger will forgo his salary for the year, with the company's new CEO Bob Chapek also taking a 50 per cent pay cut.
British Museum appoints Mary Beard to as trustee following government veto
The British Museum has named Mary Beard as its a new trustee, a move which comes less than a year on from the British government blocking her nomination because of her pro-European views.
TEA launches TEA Digital to keep attractions industry connected throughout COVID-19 outbreak
The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), has launched TEA Digital – a new online initiative designed to provide education, professional development, discussion and digital networking opportunities for TEA members, as well as keep them connected during the current climate.
UK's DCMS Committee to hear from charities over impact of COVID-19 outbreak
The UK's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee is expected to meet this week to hear from charities from these sectors over the level of Government support needed to ensure their survival in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OdySea Aquarium entertains quarantined guests with new online initiatives
OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Arizona, has launched two online initiatives to help keep guests entertained and engaged with the aquarium during its enforced closure.
National parks in Africa close down to protect endangered gorillas and chimpanzees from coronavirus
All of the national parks in Congo and Rwanda featuring primates have closed their doors to visitors in an effort to avoid Africa's endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees from contracting COVID-19.
Public comes to zoo's aid following call for animal food donations
Local residents and businesses have come to the aid of a zoo which said it might have to euthanise animals after panic buying disrupted its supply feed.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
IAAPA EMEA

IAAPA Expo Europe is owned and produced by IAAPA, The Global Association for the Attractions Industr [more...]
Clip 'n Climb

Clip ‘n Climb currently offers facility owners and investors more than 40 colourful and unique Cha [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Healthy appetite for investment at EAG International 2020
A buoyant EAG International has welcomed in the new decade as a well-rounded event with high levels of optimism and positivity on the show floor. [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:
Jurassic War - Immersive tunnel movie trailer – Red Raion
Trailer Pinocchio - A Modern Tale VR – Red Raion
Online Print Made Easy! – instantprint
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

06-08 Apr 2020

World Travel Market Africa

Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
08 Oct 2020

VAC 2020 (The Annual National Conference of Visitor Attractions)

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

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

©Cybertrek 2020

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