Located next to the existing Comcast Tower, the Comcast Innovation and Technology Centre will rise 341 metres to become the city’s tallest building. The tower is vertically stepped, with loft-like work spaces and state-of-the-art television studios for NBC at the base, and a 12-storey hotel above. At an urban scale, the project is conceived as a welcoming addition to the neighbourhood, integrated with its start-up businesses, shops, bars and restaurants.
The 1800 Arch Street site is between the residential and social hub of Rittenhouse Square and the cultural district around Ben Franklin Parkway. Reflecting Philadelphia’s great civic tradition of public spaces, at ground level these two worlds come together in an ‘urban room’, which combines the best elements of a lobby, a plaza, retail and social spaces to create something completely new for the city. Below street level, a sheltered subterranean connection, centred on a channel of water and lined with shops, works of art and seating areas, links the existing Comcast Tower with the new building. Responding to analysis of Philadelphia’s climate, the LEED Platinum design takes advantage of the city’s pleasant spring, summer and fall to introduce daylight and provide protection from the harsh winter. The scheme incorporates chilled beams and the building’s structure and podium shelter the outdoor spaces, protecting Comcast Plaza from westerly and north-westerly winds.
The core is split, creating a visual axis through the building to Comcast Tower and a clear orientation spine. This central spine is articulated at the top of the building as illuminated blades of glass, which extends 38 metres above the tower to provide a marker on the skyline. The tower’s facades are animated by panoramic glass lifts and a series of thirteen three-storey sky gardens, which rise up through the eastern elevation to draw a continuous strand of greenery through the building. The large, open floor plates are filled with daylight – each office level is equivalent in scale to twelve tennis courts. The interior is fluid and dynamic, with loft-like, highly flexible spaces designed to allow staff great freedom in choosing where and how they work.