When the Statue of Liberty re-opens to the public this fall, visitors will experience it at its best since its dedication in 1886. A multi-disciplinary design team led by Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC (M+Sa) is nearing completion on life and safety enhancements to the Statue, which closed in October 2011 to undergo this work.
In 2009, M+Sa, then known as Farewell Mills Gatsch, consulted to the NPS on a project to make the stair rails and protective glass on the stairs leading to the crown as code compliant as possible. The current life and safety upgrade project is the continuation of the process to improve visitor safety and accessibility.
“The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming people as they enter New York Harbor since 1886, and she continues to evoke the spirit of freedom, which is the essence of our great nation. By enhancing safety and accessibility to this National Monument, we continue to celebrate America’s most lasting legacy,” says Hugh Duffy, project manager at the NPS. The Statue is a World Heritage Site, the only one in New York State.
“We’ve been working for four years to help preserve and upgrade this great icon of freedom, and we’re proud to be a part of its history. It is an incredible honor to work with the National Park Service to ensure that this Monument will continue to inspire people all over the world,” says Michael Mills, FAIA, Partner, M+Sa.
The life and safety enhancements will increase visitor safety and fire protection. New stairs and a new elevator make it easier for visitors to ascend to the pedestal’s observation level, which will also be wheelchair accessible.
From the top level of the pedestal, visitors can look up and view the double helix stairs leading through the interior of the Statue to the crown as well as the support system designed by French architect and engineer Gustave Eiffel.
The project also focuses on accessibility and visitor comfort. A new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system creates a more comfortable environment as visitors ascend or descend the stairs.
To design these new features within the pedestal’s limited space, M+Sa used three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM) and laser scanning technology.