I Cant Speak for All Philadelphians: Amtrak Building (Cira Centre)

18 Aug


The Cira Centre is a 29-story, 437-foot (133 m) office high-rise in the University City district of West Philadelphia. Developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, designed by César Pelli, the Cira Centre sits across the street from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. The skyscraper was built on a platform over rail tracks in an area that had seen numerous development plans that had never produced anything.

At 731,852 square feet (68,000 m2), the Cira Centre is a silver glass curtain wall skyscraper. Designed to be seen from all sides, the removal of the building’s northwest and southeast corners gives the skyscraper a different shape when viewing it from different locations.

The building include retail and restaurant space, a conference room, a 9-story parking garage and a pedestrian bridge that links the Cira Centre’s lobby with 30th Street Station. The building features lighting designed by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design. Creating a wall of LEDs on most of the Cira Centre’s facade, the LEDs are able to change color to create different patterns and effects.

The site of the Cira Centre used to be a parking deck that sat over rail tracks across Arch Street from 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia,  Plans to develop the rail yards north and northwest of 30th Street Station had been around for decades. Proposed ideas for the rail yards included:

* A new city hall

*a sports stadium in the 1960s

*In 1970 Philadelphia considered holding a bicentennial exposition

*Also considered was the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

* In 1985 an office, hotel and shopping complex

*In 1992 an idea for a stadium was again proposed 

On May 8, 2002, Brandywine Realty Trust announced its intentions to build a glass office skyscraper next to the 30th Street Station called the Cira Centre. The plan to develop the land around 30th Street Station was part of a nationwide effort by Amtrak, which owns the land and the train station, to earn revenue from its real estate holdings.

The Cira Centre opened on October 31, 2005 with 93 percent of the building leased. On August 31, 2007, the University of Pennsylvania and Brandywine Realty Trust announced its plans to build Cira Centre South. Located south of 30th Street Station and the Cira Centre, the new project is designed by the same architecture firm as the Cira Centre. Cira Centre South will include a 40 – 50-story office tower and a 25 – 30-story residential tower. The project also includes a parking garage and conversion of the U.S. Postal Service building on 30th and Market Streets into offices for the Internal Revenue Service. The parking garage and Post Office conversion is planned to be completed in 2010 and the two towers in 2012

The lighting design was done by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design. Cira Centre’s architects did not want any light fixtures protruding from the building so Cline Bettridge Bernstein decided to create a wall of light using LEDs. The 26W RGB LED fixtures are hidden in shadow boxes behind the glass curtain wall and are obscured during the day by the building’s reflective glass. The LED lights are able to be changed color to create different patterns and effects on the building’s facade. Designs used on the building include a large “P” for the Philadelphia Phillies. White 0.12W LEDs lights are also used in the lobby and building’s elevators. In the lobby the white LEDs are mounted on the 50 feet (15 m) tall wall that separates the lobby from the neighboring parking garage.


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