The primary design objective for the facade of the new 10-story University of Pennsylvania Health System Tower in Philadelphia was to create a signature architectural building within a designated budget. The structure also had to be designed to support a future 10-story addition that will be built as a mirror image on top of it in the years to come.
The designers chose precast concrete to meet these goals, while delivering an eye-catching design that will require little maintenance in the years to come.
The resulting design features folded, triangle-faceted, insulated precast concrete wall panels and angled decorative fins that feature a deceptive fold from top to bottom of the building. The angled decorative fins sit vertically along the outside of the windows and rotate the angular peeks from one vertical row to the next. This design creates an illusion of depth and complexity, which is amplified by the dazzling white cement that reflects sunlight off of every angle.
Two of the full precast concrete sides of the building assimilate two large triangles meeting together on one of the three sides. At the seam where those sides meet, the panels either cascade in or out, depending on the side in view.
Owing to the downtown location of the hospital, a tower crane was required to erect the steel and precast concrete. Each piece had to be designed to be within the size and weight limitations for the tower crane, while also meeting the architect’s design intent. With limited laydown areas, the timing of the pieces’ arrivals was essential.