January 13, 2005
Images Courtesy Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Four years after its original public
announcement, Robert Sterns two-building office complex
for downtown Philadelphiadubbed Pennsylvania Plaza
is finally beginning construction. The impetus for moving
forward on the anticipated project is a $30 million state
grant, approved last month by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell,
a former Philadelphia mayor.
Up first is the 57-story, $465 million structure known as
the Comcast Center, headquarters for the Philadelphia telecommunications
giant. Once completed in 2007, the center will rise 975 feet,
towering above Philadelphias current tallest building
by more than 30 feet and forging a new icon onto the citys
Sterns design team has created an unembellished geometric
form with a rectangular glass box at its top. Other highlights
include a mammoth structural core and a 110-foot high winter
garden housing what will be a luxurious interior dining court.
Stern designed the winter gardena series of stacked
triple-height spacesto establish a podium scale that
relates to the traditional 16-story Philadelphia commercial
buildings neighboring Comcast Center.
The building will be sheathed in high-performance low-E coding
glass. Stern says the center establishes a new standard for
skyscrapers in the United States, one long-embraced in Europe,
with greater floor heights (Comcast Center has 13-foot ceilings),
daylight channeled through the interior, and improved quality
of air and better performing air-flow systems.
Nearly comprising an entire city block within the heart of
Philadelphias financial district, Pennsylvania Plazas
half-acre exterior landscape, designed by Philadelphias
Olin Partnership, will serve as a public space offering outdoor
dining and seating areas accentuated with a water element.
Construction of the second building, an 18-story office structure
masterplanned by Sterns office, will commence at a later
Joseph Dennis Kelly II