Should 30th Street Station Follow the Lead of D.C.’s Union Station?

Senator Bob Casey thinks so.

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

The revamped West Plaza at one of Philadelphia’s busiest–as a matter of fact, one of the country’s busiest–stations was only a taste of the larger transformation planned for 30th Street Station, as the Inquirer‘s Paul Nussbaum reminds us. Senator Bob Casey, Nussbaum reports, recently pointed to Union Station in Washington D.C. as an example of what 30th Street could be, calling on the upcoming papal visit and Philadelphia’s selection as the next city to hold the Democratic National Convention in 2016 to inspire “new urgency into planners’ visions for it and its University City environs.”

Of course, we knew the makeover would be so much more than a facelift when it was announced last May that Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the prestigious firm behind the Sears Tower and One World Trade Center, would be the leading consultant. It’s also worth noting that SOM recently redeveloped Denver’s Union Station into a world class transportation facility. Here’s the overall gist of the project, per the Inquirer:

A $5.25 million master plan already is being drawn up by Amtrak, Drexel University, and Brandywine Realty Trust for the redevelopment of the station and 175 acres around it, including possible development atop the rail yards adjacent to the station.

That study, though, will not be completed until fall 2016, after the last Democratic conventioneers have left town.

As Nussbaum points out in his piece, Union Station is more shopping mall than transit hub, with the “utilitarian” Amtrak depot pushed to the back of the building. According to project boards for the district plan from an open house in January, 30th Street Station will look to become 21st-century hub that merges community spaces, multi-modal transportation options and cutting-edge innovation into an easy-to-access neighborhood and business district.

How do you envision the future 30th Street Station? Is it more along the lines of what Union Station is like today or something completely different? 

A grand station offers a model for Phila. [Inquirer]