James Rohr is best known as the former chairman and chief executive of PNC Financial Services Group (PNC). But does he have an alter ego as a commercial real estate developer?
That's how William Demchak, PNC's current CEO, described him this week at a ceremony celebrating the construction of PNC's new headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh.
"Everybody hopefully knows that Jim was and is a great banker, but what you probably don't realize is that he is an incredible real estate developer," Demchak said, according to a transcript of the event. "He might have actually missed his calling."
Under Rohr's tenure, Demchak said, PNC went through "tremendous growth phase," a reference to the bank's expansion in recent years in the Midwest and Southeast.
Demchak focused his praise on Rohr's commitment to the bank's hometown, saying he "has had more to do than anyone in the revitalization of downtown Pittsburgh." The bank's square footage in the city, he said, increased by more than 50% under Rohr's tenure.
His remarks were part of PNC's "topping off" ceremony, which marked completion of the new building's metal frame.
"It's essentially the tradition when you lay the last horizontal beam on a building," Gary Saulson, the bank's director of corporate real estate, said in a phone interview.
The bank invited more than 300 construction workers, employees and civic leaders to use markers to sign the final beam. Following Demchak's introduction, the crowd watched as a crane lifted it up and placed it on top of the Steel City's newest tower.
The Tower at PNC Plaza, described by the bank as "the world's greenest skyscraper," is 800,000 square feet and cost $240 million. It's also the latest symbol of the city's transformation from an industrial powerhouse to a technology-focused city.
The bank announced plans for the new building in May 2011, two years before Rohr said he would step down as CEO. (He stayed on as chairman until this spring.) Since its unveiling, the building has received widespread attention for its conspicuous display of environmentally sustainable design.
Features include, for example, a "double-skin facade," a system that captures wind in the facade of the building and filters fresh air throughout it. The building also includes "sky gardens," where employees can take in panoramic views of the city.
Saulson said the building was designed to be 50% more energy efficient than the bank's current headquarters. It was also built at an angle with the street, he said, so that it could maximize the intake of natural light.