Foster + Partners thinks green for Philly's tallest skyscraper
British firm Foster + Partners recently completed work on a new supertall skyscraper in Philadelphia. Named the Comcast Technology Center, the building rises to a height of 341 m (1,118 ft), making it one of the tallest buildings in the United States. And it features some notable sustainable design elements.
Some six years in the making, the Comcast Technology Center also involved Gensler and Kendall Heaton Associates. It's the 9th tallest building in the United States and the tallest outside of New York City and Chicago, though in the world rankings it doesn't crack the top 50.
The skyscraper has a stepped design and sports a glazed exterior with aluminum and stainless steel. Its interior hosts workspaces and television studios. There are also large triple-height sky gardens and, on the ground floor, a large "urban room" that combines a lobby, plaza, and meeting spaces. The upper lobby area also has a 360-degree dome cinema experience by Steven Spielberg called the Universal Sphere.
The uppermost part of the tower is given over to a 12-story Four Seasons Hotel that boasts plush rooms and a spa and swimming pool offering views of the city. Additionally, there's a restaurant right at the top, which is glazed on three sides and topped by an eye-catching pyramidical mirrored ceiling.
You can't really call a huge glazed skyscraper sustainable in any meaningful sense, though significant steps have been taken to reduce its energy use and it's slated to receive LEED Platinum (a green building standard).
The building was partly built with recycled materials and most of the wood inside is sustainably sourced too. Water saving measures including monitoring systems and waterless urinals means it uses 41 percent less water than a typical office building, according to the press release.
A chilled beam (an efficient type of HVAC system) helps maintain a comfortable temperature inside and natural light is controlled by an automated blind system to minimize the use of electric lighting. Operable louvers allow cool air to enter inside when required and the building has several green roof areas too. Additionally, approximately 80 percent of workers arrive directly by tunnels at the lowest level that connect to Philadelphia’s public transport system, reducing the need for car transport.