A First Look at the Tower at PNC Plaza
05.19.2011
Doug Gensler in PNC, PNC Tower, Sustainability, Tall Building Design, Tall Buildings

Once considered somewhat of a fringe issue, green design has gone mainstream in recent years. The opportunities it holds to reduce operating costs and carbon footprints alike has made it a priority of businesses and corporations across the globe, many of which are now looking to inhabit the sustainable skyscrapers of tomorrow.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., is a leader in green design, having trademarked their approach to sustainable branch banking and currently boasting a portfolio of over 100 green buildings and counting. PNC was an early adopter of sustainable design, opening its first green building in 2000. The company has just announced plans to construct the world’s most environmentally friendly skyscraper at the same Pittsburgh intersection where it has been headquartered for more than 150 years.

Gensler is pleased to have been chosen as the designer for this project. This building will be an innovative model for smart, sustainable headquarters design. It will inspire and enable PNC employees to minimize their impact on the environment. This is an extraordinary opportunity to work with an organization that is committed to developing high performance buildings for their employees, their customers and the communities they are a part of. Pittsburgh-based PJ Dick will serve as construction manager for the project and Buro Happold will be the engineering firm. Paladino & Company of Seattle will serve as the green building consultant.

Slated for completion in 2015, the approximately 40-story building will be the home of PNC’s executive offices. Once erected, the Tower’s size, approximately 800,000 square feet, will make it the largest building in Pittsburgh. Tentative plans include approximately 300 underground parking spaces, street level retail and green rooftops.

James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC, says it best: “The Tower at PNC Plaza is an exclamation point on our investment in downtown Pittsburgh, and it reflects our commitment to community, competitiveness and innovation, as well as the comfort and productivity of our employees. When the Tower is complete, we will have invested more than $700 million in green buildings at the heart of the city.”

Maximizing the inherent ecological characteristics of a site is a key aspect of green design, and the Tower will leverage its location to reduce demand for energy and water. The building will feature a double glass facade that will enhance energy efficiency by reducing cooling costs and allowing natural airflow into the building. It will be oriented to take advantage of sunlight in workspaces, reducing the need for artificial light during the day. The design team is also currently exploring fuel cells, solar panels, geothermal systems and other alternative power generation sources that will significantly reduce carbon emissions. The Tower’s green rooftops will collect and channel rainwater for use in other parts of the structure.

Constructing the $400 million Tower will also contribute to the continued revitalization of the city of Pittsburgh, a one-time industrial hub that has reinvented itself as a center for financial services, healthcare and education. The project should create 2,500 temporary construction jobs, with 500 workers at a time on the site during peak periods. Like Three PNC Plaza, which is one of the largest LEED-certified mixed use buildings in the United States, the Tower will be another important landmark in downtown Pittsburgh and exemplify the city’s commitment to sustainability and the future.

In 2000 PNC opened the 650,000 square foot PNC Firstside Center on Pittsburgh’s First Avenue. At that time, it was the largest LEED-certified building in the world. Today, PNC has more newly constructed buildings LEED-certified by the USGBC than any company on Earth, and the company recently completed its latest green office building in Washington, D.C. PNC Place sits at 800 17th Street, a few blocks from the White House. The building is LEED-Platinum certified and serves as PNC’s regional headquarters in the capital.


Doug Gensler travels the world in search of the next innovation in sustainable design. He leads our global work with PNC, and is a Principal and Managing Director of the Boston office of Gensler. Contact him at douglas_gensler@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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