Crews ready site for new PNC tower Downtown

Demolition nearly complete after three months

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A woebegone block of Wood Street Downtown is all but dust.

Less than three months after they started demolition, crews for Noralco Corp. should be finished by the end of the week tearing down nine buildings in the east block of Wood Street to clear a path for construction of PNC Financial Services Group's $400 million headquarters.

The block, surrounded by fencing with banners that promote the new office tower and its green elements, is mostly rubble at this point. The only thing still standing at the site, which extends up Forbes and Fifth avenues, is a portion of the Rite Aid building, an old five-and-dime store. That should be gone by the end of the week.

Once the demolition is finished, PNC plans to begin excavation work, digging down some 30 to 35 feet below street level to create space for a three-level underground parking garage, Emily Krull, a PNC spokeswoman, said.

The shoring and excavation work should start in early June. PNC also has hired Christine Davis Consultants to scour the site for archaeological relics.

Ms. Davis did the same type of work during the construction of Three PNC Plaza on Fifth Avenue, unearthing more than 25,000 artifacts at the 1.5-acre site, including hand painted dolls, French urns and other objects dating back centuries.

Some of the items now are on display at the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, which is located in Three PNC Plaza.

Excavation and shoring will take three to four months. It should be completed in September, allowing work to start on the skyscraper's foundation. That should be done in December.

Work on the underground garage will start at that point. By next spring, the garage should be completed, and PNC should be in the position to begin construction of the $400 million, 33-story office tower itself.

The demolition of the block of rundown buildings on Wood, including a former Pizza Hut restaurant and the former Lerner's store, has exposed the intricate architecture on a group of structures on the south side of Forbes and on the west side of Wood. It also has given pedestrians a view of the condominiums perched atop Piatt Place, the former Lazarus-Macy's building, at Fifth and Wood.

PNC is billing its new headquarters as the world's greenest skyscraper. It will feature a "solar chimney" that will help cool the building, casual workplaces known as "sky gardens" and a transparent skin.

The new building will be 800,000 square feet in size, housing some 3,000 employees, including PNC's top executives. The garage will provide space for 136 vehicles and as many as 195 bicycles. The mostly glass office tower should be ready for occupancy by June 1, 2015.

neigh_city - businessnews

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262. First Published May 16, 2012 4:00 AM


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