In November 2011, UCD unveiled The Porch at 30th Street Station, a transformative urban open space. Adjacent to the third busiest train station in the country, between two magnificent historic buildings and within a short walk of over 16,000 jobs, The Porch is a key gateway to the region. Once a congested parking lane and bland, barren sidewalk, The Porch quickly became one of the most animated public places in Philadelphia, featuring abundant seating, vibrant plantings, custom swings, ongoing performances, and food and beverage options. We are grateful to our partners who have made this work possible.

Click here to see what's happening at The Porch!

The Porch at 30th Street Station

The Story of The Porch

Adjacent to the nation’s third busiest train station, The Porch sits at the heart of University City’s eastern end. In addition to the millions of passengers who stream through 30th Street Station every year, 16,000 people work within a five-minute walk of the station. The area’s vitality will only continue to grow, as the visions for Schuylkill Yards and the 30th Street Station District Plan turn into physical developments. 

When the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) started rehabilitating bridges in the area, an opportunity arose to reimagine the physical environment outside the station. Over the course of a year, UCD worked with stakeholders to transform 33 parking spaces into a pedestrian-friendly public space adjacent to the station. In November 2011, UCD unveiled The Porch at 30th Street Station, featuring moveable furniture, lush landscaping and a vision for how public space can transform a community.

UCD launched The Porch with modest, removable interventions. This approach was in line with the PPS “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” principal of public space transformation, which UCD used to guide the creation and management of The Porch. By introducing the space with a modest investment and simple tables, chairs, umbrellas and planters, we had an opportunity to test interest in the space. UCD has embraced this iterative, experimental approach to design, focusing on people and how they interact with public space rather than starting with large capital expenses.

Today, after ongoing iterations and increasing amounts of investment, The Porch offers a variety of comfortable and intimate spaces for people to lounge, unwind and enjoy landscaped surroundings, festive lighting, creative programming, and food and beverages. 150,000 visitors came to the 30,000 square foot space in 2015 alone, and recent changes – intended to increase use of space outside of lunch hours – led to a 130% increase in usage during off-peak hours. Today, The Porch provides Philadelphia with a bright and welcoming way to greet visitors.

UCD plans a diverse range of arts and entertainment programming at The Porch to activate the space and appeal to the many passersby.  UCD also partners with the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association to bring rotating food trucks to The Porch. Best of all, UCD has used its commitment to greening the district as a springboard into expanding economic opportunity for West Philadelphia residents. Green City Works, our landscaping social venture that employs local jobseekers, maintains The Porch, ensuring that it is verdant and lush all year round.


The Porch: 5 Years, 5 Lessons

At UCD, we are continually using research, data, and experimentation to inform new projects and initiatives. The Porch at 30th Street Station: 5 Years, 5 Lessons takes stock of our experience since conceiving of and opening The Porch, providing lessons that have informed our own growing public space work while contributing to a national and global conversation about urban amenities and placemaking.

Download The Porch: 5 Years, 5 Lessons


Realizing the Potential of The Porch

In September 2013, UCD released one of the most extensive post-design studies of a public space. This study has guided improvements at The Porch, and received the American Planning Association’s National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice.

Download Realizing the Potential of The Porch



A profile the man who is in charge of The Porch.

Take a look at how just some of UCD’s efforts – including those at The Porch - come to life every single day.

UCD’s work throughout the neighborhood resonates nationally. Learn what leaders in the field think about recent progress at The Porch.

The Porch is home to a variety of family-friendly activities. Here we highlight our 2011 Autumn Festival.

Philadelphia's The Porch welcomes you! Watch a video by Streetfilms.

Take a look back at the November, 2011 opening celebration when Mayor Nutter exclaimed that he’s “been waiting for this [his] entire life.”

Sponsored by the