It was about a year and a half ago that we told you about Schuylkill Yards, a massive development endeavor from Drexel and Brandywine Realty Trust on the blocks surrounding 30th Street Station. How could you forget, it’s the post where we introduced the Dutch concept of “woonerf,” which is a space where pedestrians, bicycles, and slow moving vehicles all function together successfully. A woonerf is envisioned for the 3000 block of JFK Blvd., currently known as the block where you catch the Mega Bus, but the eventual site of a couple of mixed-use towers. In all, Schuylkill Yards will entail millions of square feet of new development over the next couple decades, with a mix of residential, commercial, office, and education related space. Finally, the project is now getting underway, with the start of construction at Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park on the northwest corner of 30th & Market.
According to Plan Philly, the park will feature a lawn space in the center surrounded by granite paving. Dawn redwood trees and raised planter beds will also be a prominent feature, as you can see in the rendering (since everyone obviously knows what those trees look like). You’ll also notice in the rendering that the building next door, commonly known as the Evening Bulletin Building, will be getting a serious facelift, with new cladding to cover its mid-century facade. Unless, of course, someone nominates it to the Historic Register first. As we believe will be the case through the whole project, SHoP Architects and West8 have done the architecture work and landscape design, respectively.
This is just the first step in what should be a positively transformative project for West Philadelphia, and indeed, the entire city. As you’re probably well aware, this is one of the possible sites for the Amazon HQ2, along with uCity Square and the Navy Yard. But even if Amazon chooses a different location in Philadelphia, or heaven forbid, a different city entirely, the Schuylkill Yards project is set to move forward and improve a crucial and long underwhelming section of town. Kind of cool that a project of this magnitude is starting with a green space, and who knows, if all goes well, maybe the project will eventually lead to the reopening of the Septa tunnel between 30th Street Station and the Market Frankford line. Yeah, we know, we should pump the breaks. Some dreams may never come true.