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Plan for PNC Building Calls for New Plaza

Brent Warren Brent Warren Plan for PNC Building Calls for New PlazaThere would be several places where pedestrians along East Broad Street could peer into the garden area. All renderings by Stantec and MKSK.
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Edwards Companies, which bought the PNC Building at 155 E. Broad St. in 2016, is now moving forward with plans to add a residential component to the 24-story office tower.

As part of those plans, the local developer wants to remove the two-story glass atrium that sits in front of the larger tower and replace it with a new landscaped plaza that would include a large sunken garden, complete with waterfalls and a pond.

Jeff Edwards, President of Edwards Companies, and architect Cindy Harvey, of Stantec, presented the proposal to the Downtown Commission this morning. They said the vision for the plaza is to serve both as an amenity for residents, and as a public space that will add a new dimension to the downtown streetscape.

A restaurant on the lower level would look out onto the new green space, while the ground level of the existing building would be reconfigured to allow for a second restaurant and a retail space.

“It’s a different configuration than that of Rockefeller Center [in New York] or the John Hancock building [in Chicago],” Edwards said, referring to the below-grade portion of the plan and how it compares to some other well-known sunken plazas. “But it is actually about the same scale…it’s not inconsequential…it will be pretty impressive.”

Edwards said that the plan is to convert the top 14 stories of the building into market rate apartments, while the lower portion of the building will remain office (PNC has signed on to remain as a tenant).

Under a previous plan – in which the units would have been for-sale condos instead of apartments – the sunken plaza was envisioned as a private space, he said, but now the plan is to allow direct access to it from Broad Street, at least during daytime hours.

“We are proposing bringing life and activity down to the street,” said Harvey, calling it “a new, vibrant front door for the building.”

She added that the goal was add in that vibrancy while still respecting the original architecture of the building, which opened in 1976 and was designed by renowned firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The plan was well-received by the commission overall, but will need to be brought back to a future meeting for a final vote of approval.

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