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Master of the Schuylkill – Architect César Pelli



As we prepare to start a new season of cruising the Schuylkill River we look forward to exploring the changing skyline. When we first started cruises the Schuylkill, César Pelli’s Cira Center stood alone on the west bank of the tidal Schuylkill. Little did we know that Pelli had grand plans for the Schuylkill. With his latest projects rising to the sky we see the uniting of Center City with University City. Like the Seine in Paris, the Schuylkill River now intersects amazing new buildings on both banks of the river. If you take a cruise with us you will see why we call this amazing architect the Master of the Schuylkill.

César Pelli is an Argentine American architect known for designing some of the world’s tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called Pelli one of the ten most influential living American architects. His many awards include the 1995 AIA Gold Medal, which recognizes a body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Perhaps his most famous work the Petronas Twin Towers, were for a time the world’s tallest buildings. He also designed the World Financial Center complex in downtown Manhattan. After studying architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Pelli completed his studies at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started his career in the New Haven offices of architect Eero Saarinen. Pelli emigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1964. Pelli served as dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University from 1977 to 1984. His firm employs about 100 architects, designers, and support staff in New Haven, Connecticut. For over a decade he has been commissioned for a steady stream of work that now completely dominates the tidal Shuylkill.

patriot attends diner en blancCIRA CENTER – Cira Centre was Pelli’s first venture on the west bank of the Schuylkill and it opened in January 2006. Cira has 29 floors and 1500 decorative LED fixtures on the exterior that are computer programmed for multiple light shows the celebrate major holidays, local events and sports teams. Cira is conveniently connected to the 30th Street Station for easy commutes along the North East Corridor. The architecture is unique in that there are no right angles on the outside of the building.

EVO at Cira Centre South – At 33 floors EVO is the tallest building dedicated to student housing in the United States. This housing is dedicated to University of Pennsylvania graduate and professional students. The building, a joint project of Brandywine Realty Trust, Campus Crest, and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, opened in August 2014. Architect Erdy McHenry in consultation with Cira master plan architect Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the tower. It was completed in 2014.

IMG_0237FMC TOWER – The final phase of Brandywine Realty Trust’s Cira Centre South development, FMC Tower is a 49-story, 730-foot tall luxury mixed-use skyscraper. The building combines iconic architecture with the latest in advanced engineering and LEED – based sustainable design. The tower has 622,000 square feet of trophy office space, 10’ ceilings and efficient floor plates encourage collaborative, light-filled workspace concepts for today’s emerging businesses. Anchor tenants in the office portion of the tower include FMC Corporation and the University of Pennsylvania. Cesar Pelli is the architect.

CHOP SCHUYLKILL AVENUE – Not ignoring the east bank of the Schuylkill Pelli also has his hand in the The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (“CHOP”) research and office facility South of the South Street Bridge on Schuylkill Avenue. It is estimated that the parcel owned by CHOP could eventually accommodate 2 million square feet of space. Phase I of the 4-phase master plan includes a 24-story office tower. Pelli Clarke Pelli and Cooper Robertson & Partners designed the metal and glass building and site. The plans include several public and green areas, and a pedestrian bridge is planned that would allow people to walk from those areas across the CSX railroad tracks and connect to the Schuylkill Banks trail. The building will be clad in a unitized, pressure-equalized curtain wall system with aluminum frames and high performance Low-E insulated glass units. The glass will have horizontal bands of ceramic frit, which will be denser at the spandrel shadowbox and gradually disappear towards the vision glass areas. The entire facade will feature a series of metallic tubes attached to the mullions. The project includes significant outdoor public spaces including a bioretention rain garden.


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