PlanPhilly

Green wall livens up 30th Street Station construction site

    • University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
      University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
    • University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
      University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
    • University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
      University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
    • University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
      University City District installed modular plant walls to hide construction near The Porch
    • Construction on 30th Street Station's western side. (Or, what's hiding behind that cool looking fence.) January 2013.
      Construction on 30th Street Station's western side. (Or, what's hiding behind that cool looking fence.) January 2013.
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The estimated 1,000 people per hour who walk through The Porch at 30th Street Station will now pass a wall of greenery, a noticeable change from the drab construction site-view these same pedestrians have had for the past few months. 

When construction on 30th Street Station’s street-level, west plaza – part of a $25 million Amtrak project to revitalize the station – began this past fall, chain-link construction fences went up around the site. Though the work is phased to minimize pedestrian impact, thousands of pedestrians have been walking along the grey construction fences since the work began. 

Now, in an effort to lessen the visual impact on passersby, University City District (UCD) has installed a custom-designed modular plant wall that stands on The Porch, in front of the construction fences. 

“This has been a fun project to work on, and we think it is a refreshing approach to the age-old urban quality of life issues relating to construction fences,” said Nate Hommel, UCD’s Capital Projects Manager in an email. 

UCD worked with Mario Gentile of Shift_Design to custom design and build the wall, which is made of laser cut, galvanized steel sheets. Gentile built the wall in a modular fashion so that it can be moved and reused in other locations. Freestanding, the wall is weighted down with rubble from the construction site but is still less than the maximum weight limit of The Porch, 300 lbs per square foot. 

“After all, the entire Porch is essentially a bridge!” Hommel said.  

The green walls’ plants were installed small, but as the warmer weather approaches, Hommel said the wall will be “bursting with life.”

“We wanted something that was modular so that it would be reused in the future, and we wanted to add colorful plants in unexpected places,” he said.

The west-plaza construction is scheduled to wrap up by the end of November 2013. At that time UCD plans to reuse the green wall at another site. UCD has not decided exactly where that will be, but the organization is open to suggestions.


About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

Christine covers transportation and writes about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments send her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covers community news for Eyes on the Street, where her coverage ranges from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. During the internship her reporting on the Housing Authority’s surplus property auctions earned an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.



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