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Amtrak reveals new designs for Station Plaza at 30th Street Station

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Goodbye, polka dots. Hello, bike station.

A rendering of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The station has tall windows and a tan facade. There are trees and roads in front of the building.
Amtrak has revealed its concept plan for Station Plaza.
Renderings courtesy of Amtrak

Amtrak just revealed its preferred design concept for its “grand civic space” at 30th Street Station, swapping out proposed circular paving patterns for circular benches and planters, instead. That, plus a big plan to improve traffic and pedestrian flow around the station.

The plans come months after Amtrak hosted its final 30th Street Station District open house in July, focusing on what it’s calling Station Plaza, public space that will surround the station on all four sides. At the time, the proposal, designed by FXFOWLE, !melk, and ARUP, called for increased pedestrian pathways, polka dot-like paving patterns, skylights on the sidewalk, and elevated tree planters surrounding 30th Street Station.

By the looks of it, Amtrak and the design team took a lot of the feedback from the community and stakeholder and made some significant changes to its final design concept. You can read all 107 pages of the proposal here, but here are some of the major takeaways, pared with new glossy renderings.

A grand entry to the West Underground Concourse

One of the most popular requests from the July open house was underground connection between the SEPTA subway and trolleys to 30th Street Station. Ask an ye shall receive: Amtrak says it’s working closely with SEPTA to make this happen. The connection will lead to the West Underground Concourse, which will feature retail and restaurants, with a grand entrance at the southwest corner of the station.

New taxi spots and a bike garage

West taxi drop-off area.

In one of the many efforts to tame traffic flow, addressing taxi pick-up and taxi queuing locations were of most importance for the conceptual design plan. Currently, taxis pick up and drop off at the east portico of the station, often creating a line of traffic. The new plan calls to split this up, with drop-offs on the east portico near the train platforms. Pick-ups will be moved to the west side under the SEPTA Regional Rail overpass, as shown above.

Cyclists will also be happy to know that the plan calls for something called the Bike Station, a “large” structure designed for about 220 bikes, bike rentals, lockers, and a service station. It’ll be 105 feet by 25 feet in size and is considered similar to the bike station at Union Station in DC. There will also be an increase of bike racks around the station, from 80 to about 100.

“Urban rooms” throughout

East Portico.

At the open house, feedback of the landscaping and paving patterns was deemed “not appropriate for the historic nature of the station and would not age well.” So instead of circular paving patterns, the new design calls for circular features in the form of benches and elevated planters.

These structures, plus the landscaping, will aim to help “define edges, guide pedestrians,” and create the feel of “urban rooms” surrounding the station.

More pedestrian-only spaces

South Station Plaza.

The southern portion of the station will be heavily pedestrian-friendly, namely around South Station Plaza along Market Street. In fact, the west portico and the southwest portion of the plaza will be car-free. This space, heavily influenced by the current Porch at 30th Street Station, will be sandwiched by two green spaces and is seen as a space for temporary food trucks or pop-up markets.

There will be some water features around the station, including at the West Portico.

What’s next? The report notes that while these are Amtrak’s preferred concept plans, some of the designs may change, “but it is expected that the spirit, intent, and general configuration described here will be maintained as the design evolves.” A lot of these plans will also require further study.

Amtrak will also re-up its search for a Master Developer (it halted its search amid the Amazon HQ2 frenzy), who will be responsible for implementing all of the development around 30th Street Station, including the Station Plaza. But this is a 35-year master plan, so don’t expect any immediate changes.

30th Street Station

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