PNC planning 2012 start on new headquarters tower Downtown
The view of the Tower at PNC Plaza from Market Square.
PNC CEO Jim Rohr announced plans for The Tower at PNC Plaza -- an "eco-friendly" 40-story skyscraper that will become its corporate headquarters. It will be built between Fifth and Forbes.
The location of the Tower at PNC Plaza will be between PPG Place and the U.S. Steel building.
How the Tower at PNC Plaza will appear when seen from the air.
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PNC Financial Services Group has finally fessed up: It will build the world's greenest skyscraper -- about 40 stories in all and nearly all glass -- in the heart of Downtown.
The disclosure came Monday at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, where PNC showed off plans for the $400 million "skyrise" that will serve as its worldwide headquarters.
But the Tower at PNC Plaza won't be any ordinary skyscraper.
PNC officials are promising that the building will exceed the highest rating given for environmentally friendly design by the U.S. Green Building Council and enliven the Downtown skyline.
"We think the Tower at PNC Plaza will be a destination. We think it will draw people from around the world who will want to come and see this building and, hopefully, we'll find some people who will want to emulate it," said Gary Saulson, PNC's director of corporate real estate.
James Rohr, PNC chairman and CEO, said the office tower will be an "exclamation point" on the bank's investment in Pittsburgh and "another symbol of our deep bond with this city and this region."
It will be built in a rundown block of Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues where the bank has spent more than $18 million over the last year secretly acquiring seven properties. The Post-Gazette first reported last week that PNC was behind the purchases and that it planned to build a new office tower at the location, which is adjacent to its current headquarters at One PNC Plaza.
Construction is expected to start next year and should be completed by mid-2015. The building will house about 3,000 PNC employees, including its top executives. PNC will pay for the entire project. It will not seek any public funding, Mr. Rohr said.
"This exciting development Downtown is the continuation of what I believe is the third renaissance that's happening right now in the city of Pittsburgh," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said.
Mr. Rohr said the 800,000-square-foot development is being driven by the bank's need for more space. He said that PNC began thinking seriously about expansion after acquiring National City Bank in 2009.
He noted that the number of bank employees had doubled over the last decade and now stands at more than 8,000. Some of them are located in other buildings spread throughout the city.
The new building will give PNC four office towers at its campus at Fifth and Wood, where it has been headquartered for more than 150 years. It also will give the bank the opportunity to consolidate employees at the location, although Mr. Saulson wasn't sure all would end up there, given PNC's continual growth.
"We really found that we needed to put together a consolidated space that would be more functional for our employees ... to get the job done," Mr. Rohr said.
The office tower will be the second built by PNC Downtown in the last five years. The 23-story Three PNC Plaza opened in 2009, costing more than $170 million, including $48 million in public support. It's home to 11 stories of office space, including headquarters of the Reed Smith law firm, the 185-room Fairmont hotel and 28 condos.
PNC will be using the same architect on the new project as it did on Three PNC Plaza, San Francisco-based Gensler. Pittsburgh-based P.J. Dick will be the construction manager. The bank also plans to solicit community input on some aspects of the design.
In addition to the office space, the development will house street-level retail and about 300 underground parking spaces. It is expected to generate 2,500 construction jobs.
Mr. Saulson said the Tower at PNC Plaza will be the "world's most environmentally friendly" skyscraper. The bank has done studies to orient the building in such a way as to allow for the most sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.
As a result, the building will not be "square to the street," as are most in Pittsburgh, which will help to set it apart in the skyline, Mr. Saulson said.
PNC also is exploring the use of solar panels, geothermal systems and other alternative power generation sources for the tower.
The building also will have a double glass facade that will allow for natural ventilation and reduce cooling costs. There also will be two green rooftops, which will collect rainwater for use in other parts of the structure. In all, PNC estimates the tower will consume less than half the energy of a typical office building.
With all the green features, PNC is hoping to exceed the top level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification -- platinum -- now offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Mr. Rohr said the bank has been examining platinum certified buildings elsewhere to determine and adopt best practices and then "incorporate some of our own ideas."
"We really think it raises the bar for green buildings and also for corporate America," Mr. Saulson said.
PNC is no stranger to green design. According to the bank, PNC Firstside Center on First Avenue was considered the largest LEED-certified building in the world when it first opened in 2000 and Three PNC Plaza is one of the largest green mixed-use buildings in the country. In addition, PNC just opened the platinum-certified PNC Place in Washington, D.C.
For the new project, PNC still needs to acquire three properties on Wood owned by the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority, but that should not be a problem.
Mr. Ravenstahl said the city saw the block in question as the last significant one in need of transformation Downtown. He praised PNC's willingness to undertake the project without public help.
"I think the message that this sends to investors, developers and anybody interested in the city is, one, we're open for business. We're moving. Despite the downturn in the economy, Pittsburgh is the place to be. It's really significant for us to have this now to champion our cause," he said.
First Published May 24, 2011 12:00 am