Philadelphia's Cira Center

Essay by rl986549College, UndergraduateA-, August 2007

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Philadelphia's Cira Center

It is not true to say that today's super-skyscrapers are merely monocultural symbols. They are vertical streets with 200,000 square meters of serviced floor space at the service of 10,000 people 24 hours a day; not simply the daytime home of a few hundred office workers. Typically their first ten floors are given over to shopping and entertainment; their towers incorporate not only huge office floors but hotels, restaurants and apartments. And, because they rise so high, all of this diverse accommodation stands, in urban planning terms, upon the head of a pin. A cluster of these towers would be a city above a city: a restoration of the distinctness of the city that has been progressively lost in our century. Buildings like this can be plugged into the existing transport infrastructure of an old city as easily as microprocessors can be added to the circuit boards of a computer.

The skyscraper is a miracle of power, technology and art.

Philadelphia's Cira Centre was opened to tenants and the public in October 2005. Its completion marked a special moment for the city of brotherly love. It is the city's first new office tower in fifteen years. Boasting a uniquely modern design, it contains 26 floors of office space and an additional three floors that house heavy-duty heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment (Emporis). Cesar Pelli's brilliant design sets Cira apart, not only in distance from the cityscape, but in physicality. What was the vividly appealing feat of erecting such modern architecture near Philadelphia's 30th Street Station? Could it have been the passing of a Pennsylvania legislative bill that called for tax free zones to be designated in the city? Perhaps it was merely the influence of a great architect, whose own personal vendetta allowed for the claiming...