A New Service Reaches New Heights

Project at a Glance:

Client: Liberty Property Trust
Location: Philadelphia, PA

“What will the paper write about tomorrow?” The words flash brightly across the seventy-foot-high ceiling of the new Comcast Technology Center atrium lobby. This digital message is one of many that appear on Jenny Holzer’s multi-panel installation “For Philadelphia.”

The lobby’s large open space is showered by luminous natural light to feed its growing trees and decorated with world-class art, including “Exploded Paradigm” by England’s Conrad Shawcross. The Comcast Technology Center’s mix of art, technology, and architecture creates a new paradigm for the Comcast Corporation and the building’s developer, Liberty Property Trust.

On floor three, lights shine on newscasters as they command a room of professional cameras, reporting live from the 60,000-square-foot studios NBC10 and Telemundo 62.

On floor six, Comcast employees excitedly return to a deskless workspace, an atmosphere that challenges conventional notions of offices. The genre-redefining space spans across 38 floors, including multiple three- story open atriums, sky gardens, art installations, and an entire level of fine foods.

Starting on floor 48, Four Seasons Philadelphia pampers its discriminating guests with 12 floors of luxury. The five-star hotel is complete with a salon, spa, fitness center and infinity pool perched on the 51st floor, nearly 900 feet above the ground.

On floors 59 and 60, celebrities, executives and inspired guests peer through the towering glass walls, captivated by the finest view of Philadelphia as they wine and dine at Jean George Philadelphia, the Michelin-rated chef’s first outpost in the city.

Foster + Partners was the brainchild behind the design of the new building, but technology and media were the inspiration. The new corporate home aimed to excite Comcast’s passion for technological innovation. Successfully executing the project required the dedication of numerous teams and the introduction of a new player in the world of project management.

From Auditing to Project Management

When Liberty Property Trust (Liberty) approached Talson Solutions CEO, Robert Bright, to augment its project management team for its latest skyscraper, Bright carefully assessed the opportunity for strategic long-term firm growth and fit within the firm’s culture. Despite receiving much interest for the service in the past, Talson had never accepted a project management job. With expertise in auditing and risk management, the firm had considered project management to be beyond their core competency. But as colossal as the new Comcast building had become, Talson Solutions was familiar with the scale.

From the Panama Canal to New York City’s Second Avenue Subway, Talson had provided consulting services on far larger projects than this one. The Talson team had decades of experience working in tandem with project managers on major commercial developments, and Liberty had faith in Talson, having worked with the firm on the first Comcast Center. So, after continued conversation and further deliberation, Talson opened an entire new service to support the new landmark development.

Ultimately, Talson did more than apply the knowledge their team members had acquired over decades of work on construction projects. Talson hired the best project managers in the business, placed those experts under the firm’s proven leadership, and nurtured Talson’s reverence for relationships in each member of their new service team.

Turning Comcast’s vision into reality was an enormous task for the newly formed project management department. The team had to simultaneously tackle risk assessment, schedule adherence, quality assurance and far more across five different sub-projects wrapped up in a single skyscraper—each one demanding the greatest designs and technologies.

Different Projects, Same Priorities

While the sub-projects were all different, in some ways, they were all the same. On every floor, the tenant valued quality. One skill that Talson Solutions mastered as auditors and utilized as project managers was the ability to recognize and adapt to the unique priorities of the project. And so, Talson approved, oversaw, and collaborated with Liberty’s team on purchases and decisions that were in alignment with their shared goals, while carefully mitigating risks.

Monumental Challenges, Personal Solutions

The new Comcast Technology Center construction had challenges as colossal as
the planned 1,100 feet height. Connecting
the Comcast towers through an underground tunnel was an ambitious task, but rerouting major public utilities for tunnel construction
was the least of this project’s troubles. This project required careful coordination, constant communication, and major investment in design and construction teams. Talson tackled one problem at a time, while keeping in mind each decision impacted numerous variables. Each day, every detail was planned in advance to eliminate the possibility of surprise and increase the probability of success.

Of all the features and art throughout the tower, one exhibit arguably best embodies the accomplishment of the construction: the Universal SphereTM. This dome-shaped theater outdoes the Comcast Experience across the street, expanding the conventions of cinema. Unlike the Comcast Experience, the Sphere airs a single program, specifically created for this theater by Stephen Spielberg. Entitled “The Power of I,’’ the film is designed to inspire and parallels the innovation of the Comcast Technology Center, which went on to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, the top certification for any environmentally friendly workplace.

Every day, the two Comcast towers inspire thousands of Philadelphians. The completion of the campus has come to mark more than the origin of Talson’s project management services. The Comcast Technology Center is a testimony to the power of teamwork, the value of ideas, and the potential of dreams captured by Spielberg’s film. The building is a masterful piece of construction, a creative use of technology, and an undeniable work of art. The project’s impact extends past Liberty, Talson, and Comcast employees to encompass the whole City of Philadelphia, which the towering skyscraper has forever transformed.