“The first 50 years of the company were about entrepreneurial bootstrapping, and we got to a place where we needed what is now the Comcast Center,” Roberts said Thursday morning, standing in the newly-constructed lobby. “As we look to the next 50 years, optimistically, it’s about innovation, change and technology. The businesses that we’re in are at the center of an exciting technological revolution.”
On Monday, Comcast employee No. 1,000 will get situated at 1800 Arch St., Philly’s new tallest building. The $1.5-billion, four-year project clocks in at 1,120 feet, topping the first Comcast building at 1701 JFK by about 150 feet.
Out of the skyscraper’s 60 stories, six are already active, housing a handful of Comcast teams. Groups of staffers from the customer experience, software engineering and customer support teams were
not so casually having standing meetings and huddles on Thursday morning as the press group got its walkthrough.
“A decade ago we saw the company in Center City growing like a weed and needing a headquarters,” said Roberts. “And the first thing we did was try to have a concept for the building. It became very clear to me that that concept had to be technology-centered.”
We’ll leave the official review of the building to Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron, but from what we saw inside, the new Comcast building blends the aesthetics of your average chain coworking space with the formalities of a Fortune 50 company.
Artwork from 40 Philly-area artists greet visitors to every floor. A couple of pieces even incorporate Philly lore: From the word “Jawn” to a SEPTA token (RIP) to the LOVE sculpture.
The media giant’s projections estimate that 4,000 employees will be on site by year’s end, spread across the new campus’s 1.8 million square feet. The building includes a gym, cafeteria and 330 huddle rooms.
More employees move into the site each Monday, many walking the 200 feet that separate the two main skyscrapers. The first team moved in as early as July.
Numerous times throughout the tour, Roberts signaled to Karen Buchholz, Comcast’s SVP of Administration. We asked her about what local startups should see as their entry point to the new tower.
“We have a whole floor,” Buchholz said, “which is where LIFT Labs will be.”
The accelerator program, a partnership between Comcast and Colorado-based Techstars, already has its first cohort of companies — including one from Philly — huddled at nearby Three Logan Square.
The opening of the new building finds Comcast wading into new territories like internet of things and smartphone service, in a bid to expand the profitability of its broadband offering to make up for losses in cable TV subscribers.
One thing you won’t find in the new building? Landlines. Buchholz said staffers can surely request to have an actual desk phone if they like, but employees are mostly encouraged to receive calls on their mobile phones. Only one request to have an old-school phone installed had come in so far.
“That was me, by the way,” Roberts said.
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