The Porch at 30th Street StationPhiladelphia, PA
In November 2011, University City District (UCD) opened The Porch at 30th Street Station, a new public space in Philadelphia. When a larger project by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation created a blank 55’ wide sidewalk in front of the nation’s second busiest train station, UCD saw the opportunity to create a place of activity, respite, and social interaction at a location where there has long been a dire need for pedestrian amenities.
UCD’s approach to placemaking at The Porch has been largely experimental – test the waters with small, iterative, experimental steps to see what works best, rather than beginning with large and irreversible capital expenses. In the short time that the space has been open, UCD has concluded that, if properly stewarded, The Porch will join Philadelphia’s great public spaces – a vibrant magnet, a welcoming regional gateway, and a source of civic pride.
ArtPlace spoke with Prema Katari Gupta, University City District’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, about what it would take to consider The Porch successful:
GUPTA: Everything we do at The Porch is about engagement. We’re constantly asking, “How do we get people to deviate slightly from their everyday routines and linger at The Porch?”
The Porch boasts some of Philadelphia’s highest pedestrian counts, but the vast majority of these individuals are commuters, travelers, or office workers, moving quickly from point to point. The issue of maximizing audience engagement dominates every decision that we make at The Porch, from the selection of site furnishings to programming the site with farmers markets and yoga classes. When we are able to approach site capacity through meaningful and sustained engagement with our audience, we consider ourselves successful.