The Tower at PNC in Downtown Pittsburgh

Imagine sitting in your office on the 30th floor of rather large skyscraper and enjoying a breathe of fresh air, all day long.

In keeping with its promise to “build the greenest building in the world,” PNC is installing innovative glass panels throughout The Tower at PNC Plaza that will facilitate the flow of fresh air throughout the building while reducing energy costs.

The “double skin” glass façade is being manufactured by Permasteelisa North America, an award-winning manufacturer of architectural envelopes and interior systems for large buildings. Based in Italy, the firm has designed glass envelopes for the illustrious likes of the Museé des Confluences in Lyon, France, and The Shard in London, the tallest skyscraper in the European Union.

In a novel approach to manufacturing, Permasteelisa has established a “mobile factory” in an 80,000 square-foot warehouse near Crafton where 2,200 interior panels are being built. The facility employs 16 to 20 employees, says Roberto Bicchiarelli of Permasteelisa.

Manufacturing close to the project allows the company to save money in transportation and other costs while providing better service to the client, he told a gathering during a recent tour of the facility.

“This is the first project in the United States and the first real solar chimney in the U.S.,” says Gary Saulson, director of corporate real estate for PNC.

The double-skin façade consists of two panes of glass separated by an enclosed cavity through which air travels into the building. In addition, the facades have sliding doors and windows creating a porch-like area where employees can go for fresh air.

The design, which works in tandem with a solar chimney, facilitates ventilation and reduces overall energy use. PPG is making all the glass for the units.

The $400 million skyscraper is currently underway in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh at Fifth and Wood streets.

Source: Gary Saulson, PNC

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.