2017 AIA Awards – Regional & Urban Design

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Owner: Amtrak; Brandywine Realty Trust; Drexel University; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT); Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Location:  Philadelphia

A long-term plan to help the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country spill out into the surrounding community and create a sense of designed harmony.


A nexus for transportation in the City of Brotherly Love, 30th Street Station is the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country and connects travelers with Philadelphia’s local rail, bus, subway, and trolley routes. This plan will help the vibrancy found within the station spill out into the surrounding district by creating a transportation-centered mixed-use neighborhood that fuses the city and station.

The culmination of two years of discovery and consultation, the plan lays out a vision for the district’s next three decades, which could see a projected 20 to 25 million passenger trips per year circulating through 30th Street Station. It includes 18 million square feet of new development built atop 88 acres of existing railyards as well as an additional 40 acres of new open space. Creating a new civic plaza at the station’s front door, the plan hop­­­es to infuse the district with the hallmarks of the city’s dynamic neighborhoods: an accessible and pedestrian-friendly environment bursting with urban amenities.

Sponsored by a mix of public and private interests, the plan is a shared vision representative of the aspirations of the area’s stakeholders that balances inspiration and achievability. The finished plan is a harmonization of desires for the district, achieved after the meticulous review of 4,130 comments collected at over 50 stakeholder and public meetings as well as from numerous online surveys.

All of the development concepts found in the plan are a direct response to universal stakeholder priorities about placemaking, preparing the historic station for the rest of the 21st century, and improving the connections to the city’s diverse neighborhoods and cultural assets. Achieving those goals will mean working among some of the most complex infrastructure found in a single area. The existing railyards service 11 Amtrak routes, 13 commuter rail routes, and a freight line that crisscross at various elevations at a site cut off from the Schuylkill River by an interstate highway.

The final plan, daring in its scope but achievable in its details, will create a new city fabric through a tapestry of streets, open space, and infrastructure while sparking renewed excitement about the future of Philadelphia.

Additional information

Cost estimation: Faithful+Gould

Economics and commercial opportunities: HR&A Advisors, Inc.

Film: Thirst

Historic preservation: Building Conservation Associates Inc.

Landscape architecture: OLIN

Parking analysis: CHANCE Management Advisors, Inc.

Public engagement: Envision Consultants, Ltd.

Railroad engineering: Burns Engineering, Inc.

Retail strategy: Williams Jackson Ewing

Surveying: GTS Consultants, Inc.

Traffic analysis: KMJ Consulting, Inc.

Transportation: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff


Susan Chin, FAIA (Chair), Design Trust for Public Space, New York City

David W. Benn, AIA, Cho Benn Holback + Associates, Inc., Baltimore

James S. Bershof, FAIA, OZ Architecture, Denver

Sheila Kennedy, FAIA, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., Roxbury, Massachusetts

Robert L. Ooley, FAIA, Santa Barbara County Government, Office of the County Architect, Santa Barbara, California

Image credits

Philadelphia30thStreetStationDistrictPlan 01

Courtesy SOM / © Amtrak

Philadelphia30thStreetStationDistrictPlan(15) 02

Courtesy SOM / © Amtrak

Philadelphia30thStreetStationDistrictPlan(16) 03

Courtesy SOM / © Amtrak

Philadelphia30thStreetStationDistrictPlan 04

Courtesy SOM / © Amtrak

Philadelphia30thStreetStationDistrictPlan(18) 05

Courtesy SOM / © Amtrak