PNC Plans to Build “World’s Most Environmentally Friendly Skyscraper”

Deconstruction of buildings on the Pittsburgh site is expected to begin late in 2011.

August 2, 2011
CDR Staff

The PNC Financial Services Group, Pittsburgh, has announced plans to construct what it is calling “the world’s most environmentally friendly skyscraper.” The Tower at PNC Plaza will be located on the southeast corner of Fifth Ave. and Wood St., the same Pittsburgh intersection where PNC has been headquartered for more than 150 years. Once complete in 2015, the approximately 40 story building will serve as PNC’s executive offices.

“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,” says James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC. “When the Tower is complete, we will have invested more than $700 million in green buildings at the heart of the city.”

At approximately 800,000 square feet, the Tower at PNC Plaza would be PNC’s largest building in Pittsburgh. Tentative plans call for approximately 300 underground parking spaces, street level retail and green rooftops. Erecting the planned $400 million tower is expected to create 2,500 construction jobs, with 500 workers at a time on the site during peak periods.

“A headquarters facility is the cornerstone building of any company’s portfolio, embodying company values and business ethics. PNC is making a strong statement by building their forthcoming headquarters to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards,” says S. Richard Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer and founding chairman of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). “This project is just another example of PNC’s on-going leadership, setting a green building example for other large corporations through their application of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).”

PNC opened its first green building in 2000. At that time, the 650,000 square-foot PNC Firstside Center, on Pittsburgh’s First Avenue, was the largest LEED-certified building in the world. In 2010, PNC opened Three PNC Plaza, on Fifth Ave. in Pittsburgh, one of the largest LEED certified mixed use buildings in the U.S. PNC, recently completed its latest green office building in Washington, D.C. LEED Platinum-certified PNC Place at 800 17th St. sits just blocks from the White House and serves as PNC’s regional headquarters in the capital.

The Tower at PNC Plaza will feature a double glass facade to enhance energy efficiency by reducing cooling costs and allowing natural airflow to the building. Using advanced sensors and metering, a state-of-the-art, high efficiency heating and cooling system will deliver conditioned air to specific zones of the building, as needed. The building 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 building’s green rooftops will collect rainwater and channel it for use in other parts of the structure, as well as reduce the heat gain associated with traditional rooftops.

PNC will own the building and occupy all of the office space, with tenants in the retail spaces at street level. The project is being designed by the Pittsburgh office of Gensler.. Pittsburgh-based PJ Dick will serve as construction manager and U.K.-based Buro Happold will be the engineering firm. Paladino & Company of Seattle serves as the green building consultant. Subsidiaries of PNC have acquired six properties, totaling approximately 31,000 square feet, on the site bounded by Fifth Ave., Forbes Ave. and Wood St. PNC will seek to acquire three others totaling approximately 6,000 square feet from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. Deconstruction of buildings on the site is expected to begin late in 2011, with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012. PNC anticipates completion of the Tower at PNC Plaza in the summer of 2015. PNC will solicit community input on street level design and other aspects of the building in the upcoming months.

PNC says re-usable materials from deconstructed buildings on the site will be donated to Pittsburgh-based non-profit building supply warehouse Construction Junction. A cultural survey of the site, including archeological excavation, will be conducted by Christine Davis Consultants of Verona, Pa. PNC expects the Tower at PNC Plaza to accommodate the company’s long-term growth. The current headquarters building, One PNC Plaza, will continue to house PNC offices.