Monday, April 14, 2014

New Comcast Tower Will Conquer the Philadelphia Skyline

Six years after Comcast moved into the city's tallest building, the cable-TV and Internet giant expects to break ground this summer on an even taller, more dazzling, $1.2 billion tower. The 1,121-foot mixed-use tower will be the tallest building in the country outside of New York or Chicago. The massive project is expected to jolt Philadelphia's lethargic economy with about 6,300 temporary construction-related jobs and an additional 14,400 jobs in Pennsylvania.

The Comcast Corporation has revealed plans to construct a $1.2 billion, 59-story Comcast skyscraper in Philadelphia designed by British architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners.

At a height of 1,121 feet, the mixed-use tower is expected to be the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago.

According to Comcast, it will also be the largest private development project in Pennsylvania’s history.

The new building's adventurous architecture will be a public statement of the company's evolution from a low-tech cable-TV provider to a technology developer with video streaming, Internet products, and mobile apps.

The new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center on Arch Street between 18th and 19th Streets in Center City, will be a neighbor to Comcast Center, the corporation’s current global headquarters, topping that building’s height by 150 feet.

The city and state have committed $40 million in grants to the project, officials said. At 59 stories, the new tower will have about 1.5 million square feet of rentable space.

In addition, the Suburban Station concourse will be extended a block to the west beneath 18th Street.

To help pay for the concourse extension and other public-space improvements, the state has committed $30 million in economic-development grants, and the city has said it will contribute $10 million.

Comcast intends to accommodate the company’s growing work force of technologists, engineers, and software architects. It will become home to the operations of local broadcast television stations and local technology startup companies.

The office spaces, "highly flexible loft-like spaces and studios" are "designed for a dynamic way of working—an engine for the city’s evolution as the kind of leading technology hub presently associated with Silicon Valley,” said Foster in a Comcast press release.

"The arrival of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center makes it perfectly clear that Philadelphia is a premiere U.S. hub of innovation, technology, creativity and productivity," Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke said in a press release.
Comcast is partnering with Malvern, Pennsyvania-based Liberty Property Trust to develop the glass and stainless steel tower, which will include a Four Seasons hotel on the top 13 floors and 2,700 square feet of retail space.

"This is a very special project. It is an opportunity to create a unique and sustainable model for mixed-use, high density development, which uniquely combines spaces for high tech research and development with restaurants, gardens, fitness facilities, and a significant public reception space—a window on Philadelphia," said Foster.

The project includes an estimated $1.2 billion private investment of with approximately $900 million funded by the joint partnership and approximately $300 million will be tenant-funded interior improvements.

The Comcast Innovation and Technology Center is expected to generate $2.75 billion in economic activity within the Commonwealth and the creation of over 20,000 temporary jobs, as well as nearly 4,000 new permanent jobs within the state and 2,800 new permanent jobs within the city. The project will also produce $30.7 million in annual Commonwealth tax revenues and $21.5 million in annual City tax revenues.

"This new building is a game-changer for Comcast and for Philadelphia," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "A world-class building, designed by a world-class architect, built by a world-class developer for a world-class company, all happening in the world-class city of Philadelphia."

Set to break ground this summer, the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2017.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rebate Opportunity for Government and Institutional Customers

Join the network of contractors, suppliers, ESCOs and design professionals who are growing their businesses by leveraging PPL Electric Utilities E-power® incentives for energy-efficiency projects.

Through its E-power initiative, PPL Electric Utilities is helping its customers better understand how they use energy, take action to achieve measurable reductions in electricity use and save money.

E-power rebates and incentives lower the cost of investing in new energy-efficient equipment. And being energy-efficient helps customers realize long-term energy savings.

When your customers become more energy-efficient, it can also increase the demand for your business because the majority of appliances, systems and equipment that qualify require professional consultation and installation from companies like yours.

Your project could qualify for a rebate from PPL Electric*


PPL Electric is currently offering additional rebates for sensors and other energy-saving solutions for its government and institutional customers.

To find out more about the rebate, visit 
*To qualify product must be installed and operational between March 21, 2014 and May 9, 2014.

Lutron sensors are a great way to take advantage of this rebate.


Lutron has a full line of reliable, in-wall sensors that install and set up easily. Its wireless occupancy sensors can be installed and operational within minutes, with limited disruption to the space.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to receive $2,800+ of FREE occupancy sensors!
           - Up to 10 in-wall occupancy sensors ($85 each) and 10 ceiling sensors ($200) each

Download Lutron sensor product information and model numbers

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Commission Approves Plan for American Revolution Museum

They were told to make it better - Philadelphia's Art Commission would accept no less from architects designing a proposed $150 million museum devoted to the Revolutionary War. Especially one that would stand just two blocks from Independence Hall. So Wednesday, Robert A.M. Stern Architects delivered. And they were rewarded with unanimous approval of revised designs they had put together for the Museum of the American Revolution at Third and Chestnut Streets.

The panel's vote effectively clears the way for building permits to be issued in the months ahead and for construction plans to be drawn up for a hoped-for opening in late 2016.

Preparatory work for demolition at the site is slated to begin this month.

The firm went back to the drawing board after the commission, during a February meeting, found fault with its renderings, saying it did not feel all architectural components of the planned building fully blended with the surrounding historic district.

The changes that won over the commission were not minor: Architects replaced a cupola with a less-glaring, square-edged element lower on the building; reworked the front entrance on Third; and added to the facade on Chestnut a large lobby window and full-size replica along the sidewalk of John Trumbull's famous painting hanging in the Capitol Rotunda, The Signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The commission voted, 9-0, Wednesday in favor of the amended design. Museum president and CEO Michael Quinn called the commission's unanimous approval of the redesign "terrific news."

Asked how much the new elements would add to the project's cost, Quinn estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars. But this would be covered by funds set aside for contingencies, and would not change the budgeted price tag.

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"Our team did a great job of responding to them," Quinn said after he made presentations, and the commission approved the revised design. "We really felt they were offering their comments in the spirit of achieving the best building for the City of Philadelphia,"

Art Commission director William J. Burke Jr. said the designers responded head-on to concerns that the original concept contained something of a "mishmash" of architectural styles. How unusual was it for a group to respond so on-point to the panel's recommendations? "This particular group did it quite well," he said.

And although one more commission vote is required, next month, to formalize the approval, the vote Wednesday effectively means the process of applying for building permits and preparing construction plans may proceed, according to CEO Quinn.

Early-phase demolition work could begin in about a week, with the installation of a fence, followed by asbestos removal inside the long-vacant Independence National Historical Park visitor center (a structure built for the nation's Bicentennial), that will be torn down to make way for the new museum.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Energy Retrofits Now Easier and Faster Than Ever

Download The New Lutron® Energi Advisor™ app from iTunes® 
Lighting retrofits can significantly reduce lighting energy use and meet new energy code requirements. 

With minimal project information, the new Lutron Energi Advisor app, created by Lutron Electronics Co., simplifies energy audits and greatly reduces the time previously required for retrofit system design and proposal generation. 

The Energi Advisor app takes the guesswork out of project proposals and provides users with the following: 

- a bill of materials
- anticipated energy savings
- anticipated return on investment

After configuring project information (local electric utility rates, rebates, and labor rates), the app guides users through an energy audit requiring only basic information, such as room size, number of fixtures, type of fixtures, and then produces a complete project design and budget. The app supports multiple options for each project to ensure that budget and control requirements can be addressed without compromising performance.

Get started with the Energi Advisor app today:

- Download the Energi Advisor app for iPhone/iPad from the Apple app Store
- The first time you launch the Energi Advisor app you will be prompted to enter your myLutron account credentials—easily create a free account if you don’t have one already
- Set your preferences and start auditing
Download the Energi Advisor App for Free 

Download Sell Sheet 

Questions about how to use the app?

iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple®, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics Co.

Friday, April 4, 2014

University of Pennsylvania Plans New South Bank Campus

The University of Pennsylvania plans to construct a research park anchored by a new innovation center that will be built on the former DuPont Marchall Research Laboratories site, a large industrial property along the Schuylkill River that will house the planned South bank campus. 

The 23-acre industrial site located between 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue served as an automotive paint lab, manufacturing and testing facility for DuPont until 2009, when the factory was shut down.

The property, which includes 250,000 square feet of vacant laboratory, office and warehouse space, was acquired by Penn for $13 million.

Penn’s South Bank campus is the tip of the spear when it comes to recasting underused industrial property on the Lower Schuylkill as a zone for gritty creativity and economic growth.

The university has announced new plans to begin more deliberately transforming this 23-acre former DuPont campus into a buzzing hive of research and entrepreneurship, starting by establishing a new business incubator called the Pennovation Center.

Designed by architecture firm Wallace Roberts and Todd to support entrepreneurial and innovation growth in Philadelphia, the South Bank is an important component of Penn Connects 2.0—an ambitious long-term development strategy that has added almost 3 million square feet of space to Penn’s campus and increased the university’s open space on campus by 25 percent since 2006, when the university embarked on a two-decade expansion plan.

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A 200,000-square-foot incubator and accelerator dubbed the “Pennovation Center” will anchor the university’s campus and will serve as a hub for collaboration and creativity while encouraging the exchange of ideas for innovators from Penn’s departments.

According to a news release, Penn’s flexible project design allows for another 550,000 sq. ft. of new campus space that will be built in phases over the next twenty years.

The school’s long-term campus development strategy to add facilities while expanding the amount of open space it has. Penn has constructed four million square feet of new space on its West Philadelphia campus since 2006. At the same time, it has boosted the amount of open space by 25 percent.

South Bank aims to become a research park supporting entrepreneurs and advances in technology. The development would be multi-phased and will initially concentrate on adding new light industrial and flex-use buildings.  

At build out, up to 1.5 million square feet of new space will be constructed on South Bank.

Penn’s South Bank is very much in sync with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s (PIDC) long-term revitalization plan of the entire Lower Schuylkill River into a 500-acre Innovation District, a Logistics Hub and an Energy Corridor while expanding riverfront green space.

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Penn will release a Request for Proposals this month for design services to help bring the Pennovation Center to life in a converted industrial building on the property.