By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor
Philadelphia—New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in association with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN and HR&A Advisors, has been selected by Amtrak, Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust to develop a comprehensive joint master plan for the area surrounding Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.
The SOM team brings a host of experience to the project including the nearly completed Denver Union Station Redevelopment, which is to-date the largest public transit project under construction in the country.
Direction for the 30th Street Station master plan will be overseen by a Coordinating Committee made up of Amtrak, Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), City of Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, CSX Corporation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, and University City District.
The process for creating the master plan is expected to take about two years, and opportunities for public comment and involvement will be announced and advertised.
The project’s efforts aim to unify and integrate existing plans with a fresh perspective in order to create a unique vision for the area. The 30th Street Station precinct planning presents an opportunity to enhance community and economic development, as well as improve transportation options for commuters. Consideration is being taken about the inclusion of retail spaces within the station in addition to potential development of air rights above 75 acres of the rail yards that are next to the station.
SOM Design Partner Roger Duffy says that the project is “a singular opportunity to reimagine one of the most significant and dramatic urban areas in America.”
“We are honored to have been selected and we look forward to collaborating with the diverse group of local and regional stakeholders on this transformative vision,” he adds.
The 30th Street Station project is just one of many Amtrak efforts being pushed through in other cities such as New York, Washington, Baltimore and Chicago that aims to transform dated rail stations into urban neighborhood hubs that will appeal to the live-work-play lifestyle that is becoming popular among the Millennial and Gen-Y generations.
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with the exceptional teams at SOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN and HR&A Advisors,” says Bob LaCroix, chief of corridor development at Amtrak. “Along with our great partners, we look forward to developing a bold vision for the precinct that accommodates growing demand for passenger rail service and outlines a framework for development that can reshape the Philadelphia skyline for generations to come.”
Drexel University, which is funding the joint master plan along with its partners, is developing its Innovation Neighborhood Project on 12 acres next to 30th Street Station. The University intends to create a strong research and commercialization environment by attracting high-tech businesses to the area.
“The 30th Street precinct is critical because it bridges Philadelphia’s business center with its intellectual heart in University City,” says Drexel University President, John A. Fry. “We’re pleased to be able to add SOM’s experience and vision to the master planning process.”