Amtrak, Drexel and Brandywine Select Team to Develop Joint Master Plan

Philadelphia Aerial View

Amtrak, Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have selected Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in association with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors to develop a comprehensive joint master plan for the area around Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The New York-based firm will start work immediately, bringing its deep experience in complex urban projects including the nearly complete Denver Union Station Redevelopment – the largest public transit project under construction in the United States – and other high-profile projects across the country and around the world.

The joint planning effort represents a unique opportunity to develop new plans and re-envision existing planning efforts to create a single, integrated vision for the 30th Street Station precinct. The SOM team will aim to develop a future where the station is at the epicenter of a dynamic, urban neighborhood full of opportunities for community development, economic development and improved transportation connections. A wide range of commercial opportunities, including a new vision for retail spaces within the station and the potential development of air rights above 75 acres of rail yards adjacent to the station, will also be considered.

The master plan will be guided by a Coordinating Committee comprised of Amtrak, Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), City of Philadelphia, New Jersey Transit, CSX Corporation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Schuylkill River Development Corporation and University City District.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with the exceptional teams at SOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors,” said Bob LaCroix, Amtrak Chief of Corridor Development. “Along with our great partners, we look forward to developing a bold vision for the precinct that accommodates growing demand for passenger rail service and outlines a framework for development that can reshape the Philadelphia skyline for generations to come.”

With master planning efforts currently being advanced in Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York, Chicago and now Philadelphia, Amtrak is poised to turn congested and tired rail stations into the centerpieces of thriving urban neighborhoods that appeal to the millennial and baby boomer generations. As these populations continue to flock to cities to live, work and play, they are demanding walkable communities with vibrant arts and cultural institutions and access to transportation hubs such as 30th Street Station.

The Joint Master Plan is funded by Drexel University and its partners. Drexel is also developing its Innovation Neighborhood project on 12 acres of its campus adjacent to 30th Street Station to attract and launch high-tech businesses seeking a rich research and commercialization environment with unmatched transit access.

The 30th Street precinct is critical because it bridges Philadelphia’s business center with its intellectual heart in University City,” said John A. Fry, Drexel’s president. “We’re pleased to be able to add SOM’s experience and vision to the master planning process.”

The study area also includes parcels already being developed by Brandywine Realty Trust, including the FMC Tower at Cira Centre® South.

“We are delighted to partner with Amtrak, Drexel University and members of the Coordinating Committee in selecting SOM to develop a joint master plan for Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station precinct,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “We look forward to working with this talented planning team on this transformational effort for the Philadelphia region. This project creates enormous economic development potential for the City and Brandywine is proud to participate in the planning process.”

Development of the master plan is expected to take approximately two years. Opportunities for public comment and involvement will be announced and advertised. To schedule interviews with Amtrak, media should contact Craig Schulz at 302.683.2129 or