Diversity sought on $400M PNC building

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The new Tower at PNC Plaza project will take four years and cost $400 million, and the company is attempting to see that Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises take part in the project with a proactive recruiting effort.

Last month PNC Director of Development John Robinson sent out a mass email to nearly 80 M/WBE contractors asking them to register for a contractor meeting with the PNC Diversity Team and representatives from construction manager P.J. Dick scheduled for Nov. 16 at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

He said the outreach effort is part of PNCs’ commitment to strengthening local communities.

“PNC is committed to strengthening local communities and businesses in each of the regions we serve,” he said. “We realize that diversity initiatives make good business sense and provide opportunities for continued growth.”

Robinson said the event at the August Wilson Center will not only provide a networking opportunity for PNC and PJ Dick to personally meet with MWDBE firms interested in working on the project, but it will also offer networking opportunity between prime subcontractors and MWDBE firms.

“This project is sizeable, and some smaller MWDBE firms will not qualify for the larger bid packages,” he said. “This secondary purpose is to give those smaller firms the opportunity to meet larger prime subcontractors in order to promote potential partnerships on this specific project as well as other PNC and non-PNC projects.”

In addition to contacting individual contractors, Robinson also asked several organizations, including the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Western Pennsylvania Minority Supplier Development Council, to inform their memberships of the meeting and types of construction packages to be showcased.

Chamber President and CEO Doris Carson Williams said she is pleased that PNC reached out to the Chamber.

“They are doing it the right way, opening the process and including some of their partners. This represents learning from what’s been done, or hasn’t been done, about this in the past,” she said. “We hope to see African-American business owners as part of this expansion effort—from design to construction and infrastructure. I’m telling everyone to go.”

Alexander “Nick” Nichols, president and CEO of the Minority Supplier Development Council, said much the same.

“We’ve contacted everyone in our construction and engineering groups,” he said. “This is huge. I believe we’ll see solid representation.”

The 40-story tower will go up on Wood Street between Fifth and Forbes avenues, adjacent to the 23-story tower it constructed there in 2009, and will give PNC four towers on its Downtown campus.

The design will incorporate several energy-saving construction methods including a double glass façade that will maximize natural light while providing additional insulation. A “green roof” garden will recycle rainwater and there may be a solar installation as well. In another effort to maximize sunlight, the building will not be square to the street.

Robinson said asbestos abatement on the existing Wood Street properties will start in January, with demolition beginning in March. The project is estimated to provide 2,500 construction jobs.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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