Philadelphia’s Comcast Technology Center by Foster + Partners opens

Comcast Technology Center

Located next to the existing Comcast Center, the Comcast Technology Center rises 1,121 feet (341 meters) as the city’s tallest building. The Comcast Technology Center is vertically stepped, with loft-like work spaces and state-of-the-art television studios for NBC10 and Telemundo62, with a 12-story Four Seasons Hotel above. At an urban scale, the project is conceived as a welcoming addition to the neighborhood, integrated with its shops, bars and restaurants.

The 1800 Arch Street site is between the residential and social hub of Rittenhouse Square and the cultural district around Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Reflecting Philadelphia’s great civic tradition of public spaces, the base of the building features a sheltered winter garden that foregrounds the main entrance. This ‘urban room’ combines the best elements of a lobby, a plaza and social spaces featuring several site-specific works of art.

Rising up to the upper lobby level reveals The Universal Sphere™, a structure that houses a unique cinematic experience created by Steven Spielberg for all ages, exploring the power of ideas. The sphere is wrapped in a series of interlocking panels that create an infinite geometric pattern. The Vernick Coffee Bar located alongside welcomes visitors and employees to the building, offering both a ‘grab and go’ and table service.

Greg Vernick’s restaurant, Vernick Fish, occupies the entire northern edge of the building on the ground floor, responding to the city’s active street culture. Below street level, a sheltered subterranean connection passing through the center of the building, lined with shops, works of art and seating areas, links the existing Comcast Center with the new building and the city’s subway system. The LEED Platinum design takes advantage of the city’s pleasant climate, offering protection from the harsh winters.

The building utilizes an active chilled beam system which reduces the energy loads and creates a healthier working environment. The typical floorplate has been designed to optimize and control light levels through efficient glazing with high light transmittance and an automated blind system. Daylight penetrates into the interior spaces through triple height sky gardens. The building also features systems to ensure water efficiency with green roofs, waterless urinals and high-performance cooling towers.

The service core of vertical circulation is split, creating a visual axis through the building to Comcast Center and a clear orientation spine. This central spine is articulated at the top of the building as an illuminated blade of glass, which extends 125 feet (38 meters) high to provide a marker on the skyline. The building’s facades are animated by panoramic glass elevators and a series of thirteen three-story sky gardens, which rise up to draw a continuous strand of active spaces through the building.

The large, open floor plates are filled with daylight – each office level is equivalent in scale to twelve tennis courts. The interior is fluid and dynamic, with loft-like, highly flexible spaces designed to allow staff great freedom in choosing where and how they work.The Four Seasons Hotel on the upper floors of the building features a series of dramatic spaces, beginning with the reception located on level 60.

On arrival guests are greeted by the first glimpses of the panoramic views and are led through the axial flower-lined canyon towards the Jean-Georges lounge, Sky High, which unfolds in a dramatic bar and relaxed seating as guests descend a monumental staircase flanked by two black stone ‘water-walls’. The restaurant is a soaring triple-height space, fully glazed on three sides.

The unique pyramidical mirrored ceiling that stretches across the length of entire floor infuses the space with dynamic reflections, while multiplying the views of the skyline at eye level. The hotel comprises nine floors of guest rooms. The building’s circulation follows a defined pattern on every floorplate – an internal ‘street’ runs along the center from the elevators to the eastern edge, where the suites are located.

Curved corners mark every room door to enhance the impression of space – a language that continues in the interior layout of the rooms. Each one has full-height glazing, a 10-foot floor-to-ceiling clearance, walk-in wardrobes, a wall screen displaying digital art by Brian Eno, all complemented by a warm palette of materials and bronze tones. The bespoke furniture used throughout the hotel – in the public areas as well as the rooms – has been designed by the practice. Source by Foster + Partners.

  • Location: Comcast Technology Centre, Philadelphia, USA
  • Architect: Foster + Partners
  • Design Team: Norman Foster, David Nelson, Spencer de Grey, Nigel Dancey, Russell Hales, Annamaria Anderloni, James Barnes, Dominik Hauser, Chris West, William Gordon, Francis Aish, Joseph Bausano, David Burton, Heidi Chi, Insub Lee, Alejandro Bosch de Legorburu, Yuan Hsin Lo, Isabel Martin Prieto, Paola Nene Saktis, Pierpaolo Rapana, Katy Roach, Eva Seo-Andersen, Zoe Stokes, Rosy Sturridge, Theodoros Themistocleous, Catherine Thiemann, Sarah Wai, Emilio Ortiz Zaforas
  • Shell + Core Architect of Record: Kendall Heaton Associates
  • Collaborating Office Interior Designer + Lead Amenity Designer: Gensler
  • Hotel Interior Architect of Record: Rottet Studio
  • Office Market Place Interior Designer: Daroff Design
  • “Vernick Fish” Interior Designer: Adam Tihany
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: BALA Consulting Engineers
  • Landscape Consultant: Olin Partnership
  • Lighting Consultant: Tillotson Design Associates
  • LEED Consultant: Atelier Ten
  • Façade Consultant: Entuitive Corporation
  • Main Contractor: L. F. Driscoll
  • Vertical Transportation: Persohn Hahn Associates
  • Civil and Transportation Engineering: Pennoni Associates
  • Client: Comcast, Liberty Property Trust
  • Site: 5,798m2
  • Area: 167,225m2
  • Year: 2019
  • Photographs: Nigel Young, Jeffrey Totaro, Christian Horan, Courtesy of Foster + Partners

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