Comcast Center, developed by Liberty Trust, is the tallest building in Pennsylvania. Costing $435m, it is also the largest private and commercial development project in the state.
The original plan of Comcast Center provided for 50 floors at a height of 746ft, but in January 2004 Liberty Trust increased the number of floors to 57, exceeding the height of the nearby One Liberty Palace.
Construction work on Comcast Center began in January 2005 in the middle of protests from the real-estate industry in Philadelphia that the building owners were trying to get relaxations in building norms. Initial occupation began in late 2007, with the grand opening scheduled for June 2008.
Comcast Center is located above the railway station at 17th Street and JKF Boulevard in the centre of Philadelphia. Commuters can reach the suburban station directly from the entrance of the building. The construction spot was previously almost vacant, with only one building – the Sheraton Hotel – standing there.
Comcast Corporation, one of the leading cable television service providers in North America, will occupy 534,000ft² of office space through a 15-and-a-half-year contract that it signed with Liberty Property Trust on 3 January 2005. This translates to approximately 44% of Comcast Center’s total office space of 1.2 million square feet. With the deal, the name of the building was changed from Pennsylvania Plaza to Comcast Center.
Comcast Center has 24 floors of office space to accommodate more than 1,900 employees. Under the second phase, a 16-storey tower with an office space of 250,000ft² will be constructed.
Robert AM Stern designed Comcast Center. Initially, the architect modelled Comcast Center along the lines of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Later, it was modified to look like a European-style tower.
Comcast Center is a fully glazed structure using glass to filter light around the building. This also protects the building from extreme heat and cold conditions. The ceilings are 13ft high and the windows are clear enough to allow a free flow of light. The summit of Comcast Center is in the shape of a rectangular glass box.
The tower is a simple geometric structure with an enormous structural core and a 110ft-high winter garden housing a luxurious interior dining court.
Robert Stern selected low-E coding and lightly tinted glass to cover Comcast Center to make provision for greater floor heights and office space, sufficient daylight and better quality of air and air-flow systems.
Comcast Center occupies almost the entire city block of Pennsylvania Plaza’s exterior landscape, offering public space for outdoor appointments and dining purposes.
Philadelphia’s tallest building was constructed with a sustainable design that makes it eligible for LEED Certification from the US Green Building Council. The interiors and exteriors of Comcast Center will bear the eco-friendly mark.
The floor heights vary from 13ft to 17ft, thus providing sufficient ventilation and natural light to every part of the building. These design aspects also reduce the burden on electricity.
Recycled materials were used for the carpeting in Comcast Center. Building systems, like heating and air conditioning, are controlled floor-by-floor to avoid excess consumption. The paints used carry minimal volatile organic compounds and external window screens have been installed in the winter garden to check the sunlight.
Steel frames and glass are the main structural components of the Comcast Center. The stairs of the building are extra wide to accommodate firefighting needs in case of emergency. The contractors have also installed emergency lighting in the stairs. Comcast Center has 35 high-speed elevators.
Olin Partnership designed the landscaping for Comcast Center. LF Driscoll was the official contractor for the Comcast Center project and Thornton-Tomastetti Engineers supervised the structural engineering part of the project.
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