Cira Centre

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Cira Centre
Cira Centre, Philadelphia-east-2.JPG
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Location 30th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates 39°57′26″N 75°10′56″W / 39.95722°N 75.18222°W / 39.95722; -75.18222Coordinates: 39°57′26″N 75°10′56″W / 39.95722°N 75.18222°W / 39.95722; -75.18222
Construction started 2004
Opening 2005
Cost $180 million
Owner Brandywine Realty Trust
Height
Roof 437 feet (133 m)
Technical details
Floor count 29
Floor area 731,852 square feet (68,000 m2)
Lifts/elevators 16
Design and construction
Architect Cesar Pelli and Associates
Bower Lewis Thrower Architects
Developer Brandywine Realty Trust
Structural engineer Ingenium, Inc.
Main contractor Turner Construction

The Cira Centre is a 29-story, 437-foot (133 m) office high-rise in the University City section of Philadelphia. Developed by Brandywine Realty Trust and designed by César Pelli, the Cira Centre sits across the street from Amtrak's 30th Street Station. The skyscraper was built on a platform over rail tracks in an area that had seen numerous development plans that had never produced anything. Brandywine Realty Trust announced its plans for the skyscraper in May 2002 with construction beginning in 2004. Construction of the skyscraper was controversial because of its location in a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone (KOZ). A KOZ is designed to encourage development in poor and blighted areas by exempting the tenants of the building from almost all state and local taxes. The Cira Centre was accused of cannibalizing Philadelphia's other office skyscrapers, by attracting businesses already in the city such as Dechert LLP. However, not all tenants came from within Philadelphia. One of these tenants included Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) which moved to the city and made the Cira Centre its North American headquarters. The Cira Centre was completed in 2005.

Containing 731,852 square feet (68,000 m2), the Cira Centre is a silver glass curtain wall skyscraper. Designed to be seen from all sides, the removal of the building's northwest and southeast corners gives the skyscraper a different shape when viewing it from different locations. The building amenities include retail and restaurant space, a conference room, a nine-story parking garage and a pedestrian bridge that links the Cira Centre's lobby with 30th Street Station. The building features lighting designed by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design. Creating a wall of LEDs on most of the Cira Centre's facade, the LEDs are able to change color to create different patterns and effects.

History[edit]

The site of the Cira Centre used to be a parking deck that sat over rail tracks across Arch Street from 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] Plans to develop the rail yards north and northwest of 30th Street Station had been around for decades. Among the proposed ideas for the rail yards included building a new city hall and, in the 1960s before Veterans Stadium was built, a sports stadium was proposed for the area. In 1970 Philadelphia considered holding a bicentennial exposition over the rail yards, and the area was also considered for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.[2] In 1985 an office, hotel and shopping complex was proposed by real estate developer Gerald D. Hines, and in 1992 an idea for a stadium was again proposed for the site.[3][4] Nothing ever came out of the plans.[1]

The parking deck in 1977.

On May 8, 2002, Brandywine Realty Trust announced its intentions to build a glass office skyscraper next to 30th Street Station. Called the Cira Centre, the skyscraper would be designed by architect César Pelli. The plan also included replacing the rest of the parking deck with a landscaped entrance plaza and parking lot. The plan to develop the land around 30th Street Station was part of a nationwide effort by Amtrak, which owns the land and the train station, to earn revenue from its real estate holdings. Amtrak's effort also emphasizes projects that would increase ridership.[1] Also part of the project was construction of a parking garage. The nine-story, 1,525 car garage is intended to alleviate a parking shortage at 30th Street Station. Planned since 1996, the $50 million parking garage began construction in 2003 and was opened in May 2004.[5]

The site of the Cira Centre sits within a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone (KOZ). A KOZ was designed to encourage development in poor and blighted areas by exempting the tenants of the building from almost all state and local taxes. In 2002 the Center City office vacancy rate was 12.5 percent and numerous businesses leases were set to expire in 2005 and 2006. Owners of other buildings were critical of having the KOZ for the Cira Centre and the proposed KOZ designation for the Comcast Center, another office high-rise being planned. The landlords were afraid that the tax breaks for the new skyscrapers would attract their existing tenants to the new buildings.[6][7] On December 24, 2003 Brandywine Realty Trust announced the first tenants to lease room in the Cira Centre. Brandywine Realty Trust signed leases with Dechert LLP, Woodcock Washburn LLP, and Attalus Capital.[8] Dechert LLP and Woodcock Washburn LLP were moving from other city skyscrapers, the Bell Atlantic Tower and One Liberty Place respectively. Attalus Capital was moving its offices from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Dechert and Woodcock Washburn moving to the Cira Centre fueled the KOZ controversy because Dechert and Woodcock Washburn were wealthy law firms and would no longer have to pay taxes for numerous years. By 2006, about 60 percent of Cira Centre's tenants came from within Philadelphia.[9][10][11]

Having secured tenants for the Cira Centre, Brandywine Realty Trust could now proceed with construction of the skyscraper.[8] Turner Construction was awarded $116 million contract to build the Cira Centre in February 2004 and construction began later that year.[12] The building was topped off November 16, 2004. The topping off ceremony, the first in Philadelphia since 1999, was attended by numerous dignitaries including Mayor John Street. The beam was raised shortly before 1:00 PM and was signed by workers and guests.[13][14] The Cira Centre's glass facade was completely in place by the end of July 2005.[15]

The Cira Centre opened on October 31, 2005 with 93 percent of the building leased. Dechert was the first company to move employees into the building with many of rest of the tenants not moving in until early 2006.[16] Cira Centre held its grand opening on December 1. The grand opening featured a musical group called String Theory whose performance in the Cira Centre's lobby included a large harp and 12 100 feet (30 m) long brass wires attached to the building.[17] The Cira Centre was the first office skyscraper to be completed in Philadelphia since Two Commerce Square in 1992.[15]

On August 31, 2007, the University of Pennsylvania and Brandywine Realty Trust announced their plans to build Cira Centre South.[18] Located south of 30th Street Station and the Cira Centre, the new project is designed by the same architecture firm as the Cira Centre. Cira Centre South will include a 40–50 story office tower and a 25–30 story residential tower. The project also includes a parking garage and conversion of the U.S. Postal Service building on 30th and Market Streets into offices for the Internal Revenue Service. The parking garage and Post Office conversion was completed in 2010. Evo, the residential tower, was completed in 2014. The FMC tower is planned for completion in 2016.

Building[edit]

Cira Centre at night.
Cira Centre illuminated with the Phillies logo the night after they won the 2008 World Series. The newly completed Comcast Center (Philadelphia) is on the left.

The Cira Centre is a 29-story, 437-foot (133 m) silver glass curtain wall skyscraper. The skyscraper sits next to 30th Street Station in the University City neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[19] The US$180 million Cira Centre was designed by architect Cesar Pelli. BLT Architects coordinated the design team and designed Cira Centre's core and neighboring parking garage.[20][21] The building was designed to be seen from all sides with the northwest and southeast corners removed giving the Cira Centre a different shape when viewed from different directions.[22] The building's 731,852 square feet (68,000 m2) includes 690,000 square feet (64,000 m2) of office space and 37,000 square feet (3,400 m2) of conference, retail space and related amenities space.[19][23] The average floor-plate size is 27,300 square feet (2,500 m2) and the floors feature 9 feet (2.7 m) ceilings and 360-degree panoramic views.[19] Building amenities include fourteen high speed and two freight elevators, a health club, restaurants and retail space and a conference center.[19][23]

A pedestrian bridge designed by BLT Architects crosses Arch Street linking the Cira Centre with 30th Street Station. The bridge connects the Cira Centre's lobby with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) regional rail section. The location right next to 30th Street Station allows direct access to the Northeast Corridor, SEPTA's regional rail, and Philadelphia International Airport.[15][22]

The lighting design was done by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design. Cira Centre's architects did not want any light fixtures protruding from the building so Cline Bettridge Bernstein decided to create a wall of light using LEDs. The 26W RGB LED fixtures are hidden in shadow boxes behind the glass curtain wall and are obscured during the day by the building's reflective glass. The LED lights are able to be changed color to create different patterns and effects on the building's facade. Designs used on the building include a large "P" for the Philadelphia Phillies. White 0.12W LED lights are also used in the lobby and building's elevators. In the lobby the white LEDs are mounted on the 50 feet (15 m) tall wall that separates the lobby from the neighboring parking garage.[24][25]

The Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron called the Cira Centre "a gorgeous object". She praised how the building changes shape when viewing it from different angles, describing the building as a "shape-shifter". She also praised the glass facade which she felt "helps marry the delicate modern tower with the weighty, neoclassical train station". Saffron was critical that when "viewed straight on from the south side, the Cira becomes just another staid corporate glass tower". She was also critical of how the surrounding railroad tracks and highways isolated the building.[22]

Tenants[edit]

Cira Centre's tenants include The Hub Meeting and Event Center and the law firms Dechert LLP, which leases 245,000 square feet (23,000 m2), and Woodcock Washburn LLP which leases 109,000 square feet (10,000 m2) and Reger Rizzo & Darnall, LLP. Hedge fund firm Attalus Capital leases 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2).[8] Manufacturer Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) makes 75,000 square feet (7,000 m2) of the building its North American headquarters.[23] SCA's office space was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold interior certification in 2006 and The Hub holds a LEED Silver Certification.[26] Other tenants include real estate private equity firm Lubert Adler which leases 52,000 square feet (4,800 m2); the MandMarblestone Group, LLC which leases 9,500 square feet (880 m2); Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners, which leases 2,500 square feet (230 m2) and digital forensics company Capsicum LLC which occupies 1,800 square feet (170 m2).[27][28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Holcomb, Henry J. (May 8, 2002). "Realty Trust Plans 32-Story Office Building at Philadelphia Amtrak Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  2. ^ "30th Street Development Being Sought". The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 14, 1985. pp. I01. 
  3. ^ "Amtrak Reportedly Has Picked Developer For 30th St.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 21, 1985. pp. E01. 
  4. ^ "Ballpark Plan Not on Track at 30th St. Experts Are Examining the Idea of a Stadium at the Station. Amtrak and Others Aren't Jumping Aboard". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 20, 1992. pp. B01. 
  5. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (May 1, 2004). "New Ramp to Alleviate Parking Shortage at Philadelphia Amtrak Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  6. ^ Pristin, Terry (February 18, 2004). "Downtown Philadelphia Roiled by Proposed Subsidy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  7. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (December 12, 2003). "New Towers Could Create Soaring Office Glut for Philadelphia Neighborhood". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  8. ^ a b c Gelbart, Marcia (December 25, 2003). "Three Tenants Sign Leases for New Philadelphia Office Building". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  9. ^ Smith, Ramona (January 22, 2004). "Windfall for Wealthy Is Criticized in Philadelphia's New 'Opportunity Zones'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  10. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (July 5, 2004). "Philadelphia's office space market still favors tenants". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  11. ^ Blumenthal, Jeff (April 14, 2006). "Cira Centre success story: Law firm moves into city". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  12. ^ "Turner to build Philadelphia office building". Dallas Business Journal. February 24, 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  13. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (November 17, 2004). "New Philadelphia office building to be ready for occupancy next year". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  14. ^ "'Topping out' ceremony on tap for Cira Centre". Philadelphia Business Journal. November 12, 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  15. ^ a b c Holcomb, Henry J. (July 25, 2005). "Cira Centre's glass skin is now in place". The Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. E06. 
  16. ^ Wong, Elaine (November 8, 2005). "Cira Centre opens doors to commercial tenants". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  17. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (November 25, 2005). "Philadelphia's Cira Center harps on about its grand opening". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  18. ^ Parmley, Suzette (August 31, 2007). "New towers to rise on 30th St.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. pp. A01. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Building Overview". Brandywine Reality Trust. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  20. ^ "Cira Centre". BLT Architects. Retrieved 2009-06-15. [dead link]
  21. ^ Kostelni, Natalie (November 10, 2006). "Industry building from the ground up". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  22. ^ a b c Saffron, Inga (October 14, 2005). "Best Views of the Cira Centre - Cira Centre: A beauty with a certain reserve". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. E01. 
  23. ^ a b c "SCA Signs 75,000-Square-Foot Lease at Cira Centre". Business Wire. March 9, 2004. 
  24. ^ Lash, Jennifer (April 20, 2008). "Cira Centre, Philadelphia". Architectural Lighting Magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  25. ^ Zolecki, Todd (March 26, 2009). "Phillies set to 'Paint the Town Red'". MLB.com. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  26. ^ Holcomb, Henry J. (August 28, 2006). "Builders getting the green as more are going green". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  27. ^ Kostelni, Natalie (April 8, 2005). "Cira Centre 75% leased up". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  28. ^ Key, Peter (March 17, 2006). "Capsicum moves to city from suburbs". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 

External links[edit]