Philly reaches new heights

Laura Salmi
Thursday 27 Nov 2008

Mixed use tower set to reinvent Philadelphia skyline

What has been a parking lot of over 20 years between 18th and Arch in the centre of Philly might soon become the location of the tallest skyscraper in the East Coast city. The new design promises to join the ranks of superstructures of the world and become the 3rd tallest skyscraper in the USA, behind the Chicago Spire and the Freedom Tower.

Developer Hill International Real Estate Partners has chosen architects Kohn Pedersen Fox to design the ACC Tower: a 1,510 ft tall (460 mt) structure with a 300 ft spire (91 mt ) that would overtake by 535 ft (163 mt) the Comcast Centre, only crowned as the tallest building in Philadelphia in 2007.

The mixed use tower is set to house a 26-storey 5-Star Hotel with 320 rooms and a 3-story lobby, 300,000 sq ft allocated to retail space, a 63-story tower for Class-A Office space, dining facilities, a sky bridge ballroom, roof garden cafes, cinemas, a two-story health club and 360 below-grade parking spaces.

A 2-storey sky bridge will overlook the city streets and connect the tower allocated to office space with the hotel. The scheme will also incorporate a subway stop on site, directly connecting the structure and its employees with Philadelphia’s major subway line.

With its spire piercing the skyline and its glass curtain wall exterior, the American Commerce Center will undoubtedly reinvent the skyline, simultaneously complementing and modernizing the image of Philadelphia’s historic architecture. It is also set to become a major catalyst in the city's transformation from a satellite of New York City or Washington, D.C. into a global capital. Concerns around the current economical climate are being counteracted by the local rising demand for office space thanks to costs being 50% less that the neighbouring New York City.

Set to be progressive in every element of its design, Philadelphia's newest skyscraper is aiming for LEED Gold Certification in an effort to not only mitigate the skyscraper's impact on our resources but also to positively benefit the environment.

The project has raised mixed public opinion and it currently awaiting the official City Council approval. The hearing is scheduled for next week.

Laura Salmi

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