Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
The Tower at PNC Plaza
Featured May 2018
The Tower at PNC Plaza was recognized as a "Best Tall Building: Americas" Finalist in the 2016 Best Tall Building Awards.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“The design platform that underpins this building demonstrates a clear commitment to community benefit, workplace innovation, and sustainability.”

Karl Fender, Jury Chair, Fender Katsalidis

Completion Date:
October 2015
Building Height:
166 m (544 ft)

56,485 sq m 607,999 sq ft)
Primary Function:
Owner / Developer:
PNC Financial Services Group
Gensler (design)
Structural Engineers:
BuroHappold Engineering (design)

MEP Engineer: BuroHappold Engineering (design)

Main Contractors:
P J Dick Inc.
Other Contractors: Alan G. Davenport Wind Engineering Group (wind); BuroHappold (energy concept, sustainability);Edgett Williams Consulting Group Inc. (vertical transportation); Jensen Hughes (code); Langan Engineering (geotechnical); Permasteelisa Group, Heintges (façade); CRICURSA (cladding); Fisher Marantz Stone (lighting).

The Tower at PNC Plaza
was conceptualized with the sizable goal of becoming one of the greenest “skyrises” in the world. The office tower’s aspirations stemmed from a fundamental belief that waste is the inefficient use of resources, whether they be financial, environmental, or human. Thus, metrics for the project’s success coalesced into three categories: community, environment, and workplace. With these goals in mind, the resulting tower incorporates both highly technical green systems and channels for meaningful social interactions through a vertical column of twostory atriums, which connect people from multiple floors around shared conference rooms, pantries, and alternative work areas.

The solar orientation of the tower was one of the first massing moves of the project. Orienting the building façade to true south – off of the urban grid in downtown Pittsburgh – allowed for a passive performance that increases daylight, reduces glare, and controls solar heat gain.

The structure’s natural ventilation is heavily dependent on its solar chimney, double-skin façade, building controls, and occupant engagement. The solar chimney consists of a large, angled thermal mass at the top of the tower encapsulated by glass and two vertical shafts that run from base to roof in the building’s core. When the sun heats the roof, the chimney warms and creates a natural vacuum effect in which air from the office floors below is drawn upward. 
Interior view of a two-story atria break-out space View of the façade showing the “pop-out” windows
Meanwhile, sensors and controls constantly measure the indoor and outdoor environment to determine when the double-skin façade’s external pop-out windows and interior vents should open to facilitate natural ventilation. When indoor and outdoor conditions are ideal, the pop-out windows and vents open to allow fresh air into the building. Thanks to the vacuum effect, this air travels across the building’s floor plate, enters and rises up the solar chimney, and exhausts through the roof.

A water recycling and treatment system was installed, successfully diverting wastewater from the city’s overwhelmed sewer system. This system reduces the building’s contribution to the city’s stormwater problem, while also allowing the tower to consume 77 percent less city water than a typical office building. In addition to this cutting-edge system, the tower utilizes natural rainfall with innovative green roof technology, located on its second, third, fourth, and 28th floors. Employing these methods, rainwater is collected for treatment and reuse – for flushing, irrigation, and cooling only – throughout the building, lessening the amount that would otherwise flood into the city’s sewage system.

The five-story skygarden at the top of the building Typical floor plan

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
The Tower at PNC Plaza