New Frontiers at Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock welcomes about 2.5 million guests per year to take in sweeping 360° city views from 30 Rockefeller Plaza. For the next 18 months as the attraction undergoes an extensive renovation, guests climb their way up to the observation deck while engaged in an immersive exhibition curated by MATTE called “New Frontiers.”
“New Frontiers” navigates around the construction, while inviting visitors to experience the newest reinvention of Rockefeller Center’s founding vision: an exhibition of emerging New York artists.
“NEW FRONTIERS” AT TOP OF THE ROCK
When Rockefeller Center broke ground in 1931, John D. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller envisioned it as a monumental public art gallery. They established a founding arts program to commission pieces around the theme “New Frontiers.” This program brought us some of New York City’s most legendary artworks like “Prometheus” and “Atlas.”
Today at Top of the Rock, MATTE reprises this theme with a collection of interactive installations from dynamic New York artists that bring the viewer into the long history of art at Rockefeller Center.
A NEW VISUAL IDENTITY
We transformed Top of the Rock with a new visual identity inspired by one of Rockefeller Center’s original commissioned artworks, “Sound and Light.” The sculpture by Lee Lawrie sits above the entrance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and heralds the progress in radio (sound) and television (light) that took place there.
Based on the rich geometry of Lee Lawrie’s Art Deco bas-relief work, we created a library of modular patterns to serve as an aesthetic thread throughout the space, while also serving functional purposes, like wayfinding.
The custom display letterforms served as a modern approach to art deco typography.
We used a secondary typeface dedicated to bigger headlines, and used an established brand typeface for longer format copy.
The Way Forward Is Up
As guests arrive, they are immersed in “New Frontiers” through the mesmeric graphic system and enveloping audio installation from musician and artist Ray Kunimoto. Kunimoto takes an abstract approach to sound design that relates the historic sounds of Rockefeller Center to the contemporary situation we live in today. The audio builds throughout the journey of the experience from the ground level to the 69th floor.
The History of “New Frontiers” on Film
The experience begins with the history and backstory behind “New Frontiers.” The hero moment on the mezzanine is an 11-minute cinematic film created and produced by MATTE that mixes archival imagery with footage shot on the ground at Rockefeller Center. This is the last educational touchpoint before guests climb up and out of the past into the future, through a series of installations from forward-thinking New York artists curated by MATTE.
ART ON VIEW
“CONDUIT NO.5” BY ANDREW GIUGNO & RAY KUNIMOTO
“Conduit No. 5” is a time-based audiovisual installation and collaboration between Brooklyn-based lighting designer Andrew Giugno and sound designer Ray Kunimoto. It is part of an evolving series that explores space and time through the use of light and sound.
“TIME CAPSULE OVER MANHATTAN” BY BREAKFAST STUDIO
“Time Capsule Over Manhattan” is a computer-controlled kinetic sculpture by Brooklyn-based BREAKFAST Studio. Using their custom-engineered Flip-Disc medium, it captures clips of the visitors who interact with it, and then plays them back in a continual cycle.
"REFLECTIONS" BY DIANA SINCLAIR
“Reflections” is a collective portrait that redefines viewer, creator, and subject from New York native Diana Sinclair. The lines of distinction between roles are blurred, as the viewer is encouraged to capture a self-portrait that is integrated into the larger, ever-evolving installation.
“Progressive Perspectives” is a regularly changing exhibit of emerging New York digital artists, curated by MATTE in partnership with NFT marketplace Foundation. Each artwork on display is an NFT up for auction, which guests can inquire about by scanning a QR code.
A LOOK FROM ABOVE
Through the lens of a virtual camera, “A Look From Above” invites guests to capture a selfie video on the observation deck of Top of the Rock, overlooking all of Manhattan. The video mimics the time of day and weather conditions of the environment in that very moment of light, space, sky, and steel.