City approves plan for new PNC tower
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The city planning commission cleared the way Tuesday for construction of Downtown's newest skyscraper.
Members voted unanimously to approve plans for the Tower at PNC Plaza, the 33-story glass office building that will serve as the headquarters for PNC Financial Services Group.
"It's a welcome addition to our skyline," said Page Thomas, a planning commission member, before casting his vote.
PNC is billing the $400 million complex, to be built on Wood Street between Forbes and Fifth avenues, as the "greenest skyrise in the world," one that will exceed the top standards for sustainable design.
Gary Saulson, PNC's director of corporate real estate, told planning commission members that the solar chimney to be built into the skyscraper will be the first in new construction in North America.
The chimney will work in conjunction with a diamond-shaped solar heat collector at the very top of the tower that will absorb sunlight and help draw air through the structure. Facilitating the exchange will be "pop out" windows that will open to allow air into the building to keep it cool.
In order to back up its green claims, PNC plans to publish employee evaluations of the office tower as well as the operating costs and energy results relating to the building's performance, Mr. Saulson said.
The goal, he noted, "is to prove that we did what we said we would do."
"The building is very transparent, and we want the process to be very transparent," he said.
PNC plans to begin deconstruction of existing buildings on the east side of Wood and parts of Forbes and Fifth by March. The new building should be rising from the ground in 15 months. Completion is scheduled for June 1, 2015.
The new headquarters will feature more than 800,000 square feet of space and house some 3,000 employees. There will be three levels of underground parking for 136 vehicles and as many as 195 bicycles.
PNC also plans to create five six-story "neighborhoods" within the building to make it feel more like a campus and to help spur interaction among employees. There also will be two patios, one directly off an auditorium in the lobby and another -- filled with plants, flowers and other vegetation -- directly above it.
Also Tuesday, commission members were briefed on plans to restore facades at 254 and 256 Fifth and 445 Wood directly across from the new skyscraper.
All three buildings will get new windows and new storefronts. A canopy will be restored to the Wood building, now home to Kashi Jewelers. The owner eventually hopes to use the upper floors of the buildings for 24 to 30 apartment units.
Another building, at 435 Market St., also will get a new storefront and awning and other improvements. The work is part of a new program to help Downtown property owners make improvements to facades and upper floors.
Mark Belko: email@example.com
First published on January 11, 2012 at 12:00 am
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