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Station Plaza at 30th Street Station: What to expect at the future civic space

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Here’s what you missed at the public open house

Station Plaza is being proposed as 30th Street Station’s grand civic space.
Renderings by FXFOWLE/!melk/ARUP

At an open house held at 30th Street Station Tuesday afternoon, a design proposal for Station Plaza, the grand civic space planned as part of the 30th Street Station District Plan, was revealed.

The proposal, designed by FXFOWLE, !melk, and ARUP, calls for increased pedestrian pathways, circular paving patterns, skylights on the sidewalk, and elevated tree planters surrounding 30th Street Station. The main goal of this reconfiguration, Amtrak says, is to provide the grand train station with the grand public space.

As one poster put it at the open house, “30th Street Station was never properly ‘grounded’ into Philadelphia’s urban fabric. A magnificent station deserves a spectacular plaza.”

If you missed the open house, the proposals and online survey are now available on the 30th Street Station District’s website for public perusal. The 30th Street Station District timeline says that early Station Plaza upgrades should begin around 2020 and be complete around 2029.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the major features that are part of the proposed Station Plaza.

The view looking toward the West Portico plaza.

Circular paving patterns

One of the proposed features that immediately pops out on the renderings are the circular patterns that dot the public plaza. Designer Jerry van Eyck, principal of !melk, says the polka dots are intentional, as they follow the path of the Amtrak train tracks below.

These circular patterns will be accompanied by some water fountain features that double as skylights, as well as built-in benches that will also function as tree planters. Van Eyck says, “These planters are quite smart because they provide seating but also drive the pedestrian flow.”

A rendering of the West Portico arrival entrance from Concourse Level and SEPTA.

A new West Portico entrance

The addition of an entrance at the station’s West Portico is another proposed way to increase pedestrian access to and from the building. The entrance would include a stairwell down to the new underground SEPTA-Amtrak connection and retail concourse (more on that below). Joe Pikiewicz of FXFOWLE says the idea isn’t even a novel one: The original 1934 plans for 30th Street Station included an entrance at the West Portico.

This is the proposed view from Market Street. A water fountain would double as a skylight.

Fewer cars, more public space

“One of our main charges was to solve the particular problems with taxis, cars, and drop-offs,” said Pikiewicz. Currently, there are multiple drop-off points around the station that cause conflicts between pedestrians and drivers.

To fix this, the taxi queue will be below-grade and out of site, off to the northwest corner of the station. Drop-offs, meanwhile, will also be redirected to the north side, where the North Concourse will eventually be re-opened.

Jerry van Eycke describes the site plan, which wraps around the entire building, as two C-shaped areas: The Market Street side of the station will be dedicated toward the civic space, while the opposite C on the Arch Street side is considered the transportation zone.

“The end goal is really trying to make this less of a place for cars to stop and drop off passengers and allow us to have more pedestrian space,” Pikiewicz said.

This is an east-west section that reveals the proposed underground retail concourse connecting SEPTA and Amtrak.

An underground SEPTA-Amtrak connection

The design proposal includes an underground passage with retail that will connect the SEPTA station and Amtrak. Passengers would also be able to access this retail concourse via a stairway from the new West Portico Concourse.

This wasn’t exactly part of the Station Plaza proposal, but it was included in the site plan anyway. One of the biggest gripes about the current station is that there is no underground connection between the SEPTA station and 30th Street Station—passengers have to leave their respective station and a four-way intersection to make the switch.

30th Street Station

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