Cira Centre

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
735,000 square feet / 68,000 square meters
2005

Cira Centre was Philadelphia’s first office tower in more than a decade. The 29-story tower is adjacent to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, west of downtown along the Schuylkill River. Standing apart from the city’s cluster of tall buildings, the tower is visible from a distance on all sides — a singular, sculptural object.

Contrasting the weight and solidity of the train station, the tower is delicate and light. Sheathed in a reflective surface, the crystalline form mirrors the sky, the façade changing according to the time of day. At night, the effect is even more dramatic. LEDs integrated into the curtain wall light the tower in different colors and patterns according to the occasion. Cira Centre also changes in character when seen from different vantage points. The angled corners that enable its apparent shift in form also accentuate the building’s height.

A minimally textured curtain wall reinforces the sense that the tower is a sculpted form. Brushed stainless steel mullions are only 75 millimeters (less than 3 inches) wide. Barely projecting from the façade, the mullion system creates a thin, seemingly two-dimensional grid on the building’s exterior.

The tower is the first installment of a long-term master plan to develop a neighborhood around the train station, one of the busiest in the United States. Cira Centre rises from a platform over the rail yard, between the terminal and Amtrak’s enclosed parking garage. A grand, light-filled foyer links Cira Centre, the train station and the garage, providing quick and intuitive connections for commuters and office workers. A suspended mezzanine-level walkway cuts through the foyer and links to a sky bridge over the street and into the train station. The glass curtain wall billows and extends to form a trapezoidal porte-cochere, creating a distinctive street-level entrance to the tower.