The Porch Evolves and Makes University City Better
University City District unveiled upgrades to The Porch at 30th Station, the public space project it started four years ago. Building effective public space in a major urban area like Philadelphia isn't just a one-time event, UCD executive director Matt Bergheiser tells us. The space has to grow and evolve like any other part of the city. "We wanted The Porch to evolve, especially as the neighborhood around it evolves with more residents and businesses," he says.
The area near the 30th Street Station is the front door to Philadelphia, Matt says, with millions of riders passing by every year, and millions of pedestrians traversing the area. "For a small investment in 2011, we created a greener and more sociable space, and it succeeded beyond our expectations," he notes, explaining that the recent $600k reimagination of The Porch makes it greener, doubles the seating capacity, and adds more permanent food service, with new elements designed by Groundswell Design Group and Gehl Studio. "We feel like we've created a more grown-up public area."
There's also a connection between The Porch's new amenities and UCD's other efforts, Matt says. The new food and beverage offering benefits the organization's West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which helps match local employees with employers looking for their skills (participants are pictured). Overall, Matt says, The Porch project is part of his organization's wider effort to make University City a better place to live, in conjunction with universities, health systems, businesses and other community members.