The Tower at PNC Plaza

Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rising 33 stories above downtown Pittsburgh, The Tower at PNC Plaza provides an impressive new 800,000ft2 headquarters for the PNC Financial Services Group Inc. Known as a pioneer in environmentally responsible development and operations, PNC had ambitions to establish a new benchmark by creating the world’s greenest office tower.


Buro Happold worked closely with the architect and the wider project team, undertaking rigorous exploration and testing of how advanced passive design strategies could be paired with energy efficient active systems for optimal performance.

Image: Connie Zhou


We developed two key features that work symbiotically to create a highly energy efficient building. A fully automated double-skin facade is the first of its kind in the country, and employs two different types of double-skin assemblies to enclose more than 90% of the building.

Between the inner and outer window walls is a 75cm cavity that both insulates the building and facilitates natural ventilation using popper windows in the exterior wall and flopper vents in the interior. Blinds set between the two walls reduce glare and heat gain without blocking daylight or views to the outside, allowing 91% of the interior to be naturally lit during daylight hours.

We developed a fully automated double-skin facade that works symbiotically with a solar powered chimney to create a highly energy efficient building.

Denzil Gallagher, Partner
Image: Connie Zhou

This intelligent facade system works with a solar-power chimney to heat, cool and ventilate The Tower. The chimney is composed of two vertical shafts within the building core, topped by a 5000ft2 glass box that is angled toward the sun. On warm days, the chimney pulls fresh air in through the facade, up through the shafts, and out at the top – providing natural ventilation without the use of mechanical fans. During cooler weather, the skylight box preheats air before it is drawn into the building.

These passive design strategies work alongside active systems to provide an excellent level of interior comfort with minimal energy use.

Using the very latest green technology, we devised further passive and active strategies to deliver a project that exceeds even LEED Platinum criteria. Image: Connie Zhou
Image: Connie Zhou

This office building sets a new standard with environmentally responsible design and engineering.

Jeremy Snyder, Principal


The Buro Happold team was instrumental in developing groundbreaking initiatives that reduce energy use in The Tower by an impressive 50% against that of similar-sized office blocks. The result is a building that combines cutting-edge design with the very latest green technology to exceed even the highest LEED Platinum criteria, and set a new standard in environmentally responsible engineering and design.


Our policies and terms outline the information we collect about you, and how we process your personal information, please read them to be fully informed. We also use cookies on our website to provide you with a better experience. By continuing to use this site, without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Continue Close