Hao Ko

Office buildings suck for a lot of reasons. The first one is that you have to do work in them. Unfortunately no one can do anything about that. But the other things about them that suck — the shitty lighting, the low, sad, ceilings, the stale air — are all things that the architect Hao Ko plans to address as he creates a bold, innovative, and beautiful design for a new PNC Bank building in Pittsburgh.

The idea of re-imagining the basic skyscraper is not new. But often when builders have set out to make a building more efficient, the end result is either dull, not really big enough to be called a skyscraper, or only uses marginally fewer resources than a plain old building that no one even tried to be even semi-righteously green about anyway. But this building in Pittsburgh is more ambitious than any plain old green skyscraper to date.

Hao Ko

For starters, it’s going to be transparent — literally transparent, though it’s also a nice metaphor for the way companies say they are trying to do business, although since PNC is a bank, we won’t hold our breath. And it’s going to have a sort of second skin, so that air flows into it, rather than getting sucked out, when doors are opened. The frosting on the breathing building cake is a five-story walled-in area that will reflect the weather of the outside — sort of like an enclosed courtyard. In other words, cold in winter, warm in summer. This video explains a little about how it works:


Companies aren’t just trying to build nicer buildings to be nice, of course. They’re interested in efficiency and productivity. So it’s great that they’re going this route, but hmm … maybe a little profit sharing might work too? As long as we’re all breathing here it seemed like a good time to bring that up.