Realizing the Potential of The Porch presents best practices in data-driven placemaking and communication of complex information about shared spaces in our cities. Philadelphia's University City District (UCD) retained Interface Studio to digest the tombs of data they had collected on how people were using this new public space, situated at the doorstep of Amtrak's 30th Street Station.
Using illustration to bring the data to life, Interface developed a case-study of lessons learned and design principles to inform a more capital-intensive, long-term master plan for The Porch.
In November 2011, University City District unveiled The Porch at 30th Street Station, a new public space atop a former parking lot at Amtrak’s doorstep. In doing so, UCD seized upon an opportunity (a PennDOT project had created a 55’ x 500’ stretch of sidewalk where there had previously been 33 parking spaces), believing that there was adequate demand for a vibrant public space at the location.
Acting quickly, UCD, a Special Services District in West Philadelphia’s University City area, applied its signature place-based, data-driven, “iterative placemaking” approach to take the first steps toward creating a world-class public space. They deployed an initial set of movable furniture, umbrellas, and plantings, plus programming for all ages, and followed up with a rigorous study of site usage patterns, using a methodology inspired by urban sociologist William “Holly” Whyte.