A Greener Construction Site at 30th Street Station

Renovation activity at the Western Plaza at 30th Street Station is poised to give The Porch a new companion. But where there’s been a chain link construction fence to the west of the Porch for months, there is now a temporary green wall.

“It really bothered me,” said Nate Hommel, capital projects manager at University City District, about the views of construction fences offered to visitors and passersby of the Porch by current construction. “We wanted to see what we could do to give it some new life.”

Greening the fences

The folks at UCD got to work in December thinking about how to transform the site. Last week, twelve creative construction modules were installed at the Porch side of 30th Street Station along the construction fence that runs for about fifty yards. The modules are nine-foot tall planters and include shrubbery at all eye-levels. The modules also include a graphic backdrop and tiered planting wall made of backerboard. They are self-supporting, as well, not touching the construction fence.

Closer look
Even closer

The modules were designed by Shift _ Design, a local company that fabricates sustainable systems like stormwater roofs and living walls. When the New York City-based Shake Shack opened at 20th and Sansom Streets last year, Shift designed the living wall construction modules that provided a more aesthetically appealing look for the walls surrounding the construction.

Remember this?

During Design Philadelphia last fall, Hommel chanced upon the green wall at Shake Shack. That brewed a relationship that led to Shift designing the modules we now see at the Porch. When renovations to waterproof the garage under the Amtrak West Plaza are complete, a project that will also mean the fabrication of a new concrete plaza, the modules can be repurposed to fit another site.

One more look

What that site may be is yet to be determined. But it will likely be somewhere where there is a large juxtaposition between pedestrians and construction. And in University City, it seems like every few months a new project is announced. The Science Center, for example, recently announced two projects, including plans to construct its first ever residential project, a 27-story tower slated to erected at 36th & Market. Might be a nice new home for these green modules, once Amtrak is done their work at 30th Street Station.

–Lou Mancinelli