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October 06, 2015

PNC Opens New Corporate Headquarters

The Tower at PNC Plaza, Designed by Gensler, is One of the Greenest Skyscrapers in the World
PITTSBURGH — The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. officially opened its new headquarters, The Tower at PNC Plaza, designed by Gensler. The 33-story, 800,000-square-foot tower, located in downtown Pittsburgh, is certified LEED Platinum. The building is a showcase for the latest sustainable building technologies including passive ventilation systems, solar chimneys, and an operable double-skin façade, a first in the United States.
“Once an interesting idea, sustainable building design is now integral in our design approach,” said Doug Gensler, principal-in-charge of the project. “In The Tower, not only will the design decrease the reliance on energy resources, but it provides an extraordinary place to work. It is a building that we hope will inspire its occupants and illustrate that PNC is a leader in driving performance through innovation.”
In designing The Tower at PNC Plaza, Gensler rethought the traditional building chassis, approaching the new tower from the occupant perspective and asking questions such as, “How can a building give individual occupants control over their interior environment?” Aspects of a traditional HVAC system were completely rethought, as well as building siting to allow for abundant daylight year round.
“The traditional office building paradigm has not been reconsidered in decades,” said Hao Ko, principal and design director at Gensler. “PNC pushed us to completely rethink what The Tower at PNC Plaza could be and design a building that is visually elegant, environmentally responsible and technically advanced.”
The Tower at PNC Plaza is expected to consume 50 percent less energy and 77 percent less water than a typical office building. The building’s state-of-the-art green technologies include:
  • A double-skin façade: a window system in which two panes of glass are separated by a cavity that provides insulation and helps control the building’s interior temperature. Fresh air enters the cavity through the exterior façade’s windows, which automatically open and close depending on weather conditions, and passes through the interior façade’s vents, which provide access to the building’s floor plate.
  • A solar chimney: consists of two vertical shafts located at the core of the tower through which warm air rises. The solar chimney and double-skin façade create a cycle in which fresh air enters the building, naturally warms, rises through the shafts and exits at the roof. PNC expects the double-skin façade and solar chimney to facilitate natural ventilation at least 42 percent of the year.
  • Blinds with automated controls: located within the cavity of the double skin, these activate depending on the amount of light entering the building. They automatically close when there is glare or a significant amount of sunlight and open when lighting conditions are ideal.
  • A water recycling and treatment system: the most advanced in the United States, it recycles and treats rain and waste water for flushing, cooling and irrigation.
  • Active chilled beams: The use of a chilled beam system throughout the building for heating and cooling enabled both a reduction in the overall amount of mechanical equipment in the building as well as a reduction in the height of each floor, ultimately decreasing The Tower’s overall height and materials costs.
  • Outdoor spaces: The tower features ample outdoor space on floors three and 28, providing employees with easy access to landscaped outdoor space with views of downtown Pittsburgh and beyond.
  • Material selections: All materials used for construction had to meet very strict sustainability guidelines. Materials were locally sourced as much as possible, including the wood used for the entire inner façade, which was sourced in Western Pennsylvania.
The Tower was designed to optimize the employee experience by providing a comfortable environment that both supports employee well-being and encourages collaboration. For the workplace design, Gensler utilized proprietary research, as well as real-time observation, to create a workplace that fosters increased collaboration among PNC employees and offers a variety of furnished two-story “neighborhoods.” These neighborhoods were designed to connect employees on different floors and to provide alternate workplaces to support employees’ varying working needs throughout the day. Ninety-two percent of the tower’s workspaces have access to daylight and views. At the top of the building, a five-story indoor park features plants, furniture, fresh air and city views for employees to enjoy year-round.
Monica Schaffer
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