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An original concept developed by Engine Room, National Geographic’s “EMPIRE,” is the fascinating story of two iconic architectural endeavors, the Empire State Building and the new One World Tower which is rapidly taking its place in the Lower Manhattan. For the unique project, Engine Room teamed with Director John Joseph and First Television Producers Mack Anderson and Brett McVicker to produce a documentary special that weaves modern day interviews with recreated historic sequences which transport viewers to a time that forever changed New York’s world famous skyline.

Empire’s original perspective, as told through the developers and ironworkers responsible for these massive accomplishments, reveals an important historic continuum in New York’s development. The story of the Empire State building is a truly fascinating record that can never be matched: In the face of the great depression, using no hard hats or nets, iron workers risked and lost their lives to build the Empire State in a mere 13 months. Empire also brings witness to One World Tower, where safety is the highest priority. Many of the ironworkers on One World Tower have a lifeline to the Empire State built by great uncles or grandparents in the ironwork trade.

“For many people, the Empire State is an incredible monument to achievement and a symbol of a great city built by many unsung heroes” says Engine Room’s Dan Schmit. “For Engine Room, the project marks an exciting expansion into original content development partnerships.”

To bring this story to life, Engine Room utilized animation and visual effects to painstakingly recreate historic sequences that bring the viewer back in time and to the 82nd floor of the Empire State building. Engine Room’s Dan Schmit lensed the recreations and cast the historic actors, and his team built set pieces and produced all of the digital elements needed to depict the many facets of the Empire State construction team. Engine Room tapped Zach Kinny to produce and design the show’s beautiful, deco-inspired main titleBs and interstitial graphics.

The story of the Empire State is interwoven with that of One World Tower, a potent symbol of triumph over adversity built on a sacred site of one of the nation’s most tragic events. Through revealing interviews directed by John Joseph, the developers express both pride and responsibility surrounding the project.

EMPIRE airs Sunday May 20th at 8pm on the National Geographic Channel.