30th St. Station

Amtrak William H. Gray III 30th Street Station Redevelopment Project

Arora Engineers (Arora) provided multidisciplinary design/build engineering services to Gilbane Building Company and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Architects a member of the team led by Plenary Infrastructure Philadelphia (PIP), for the redevelopment of Amtrak’s William H Gray III 30th Street Station. Under this master development partnership via ground lease, which reached financial close in September 2021, the PIP Consortium will refurbish and improve the historic building, with PIP responsible for financing the improvements and maintaining the station for the next 50 years. The restoration of the approximately 8-acre station, built between 1929 and 1934, includes extensive enhancements to the neoclassical station’s infrastructure to bring it into a state of good repair, improved transit and pedestrian circulation, consolidated station operations, rejuvenated retail offerings, and improved pedestrian transit safety with landscaping and streetscaping.

Phase one included the renovation and repositioning of approximately 30,000SF of retail space and improvements to station amenities including expanded commercial offerings, renovations to customer areas such as restrooms, ticketing and baggage, waiting rooms and lounge areas, as well as $10 million of upgrades to station’s HVAC and MEP systems. Also included were the redevelopment and retrofitting of the North and South Office Towers flanking the Main Hall to provide office space and commercial development opportunities, respectively.

Phase two consists of several developments aimed at improving passenger circulation in anticipation of projected increases in ridership, including the new North Concourse and West Underground Concourse, as well as a full redesign and reconstruction of the Station Plaza into a premier, inviting public space. The new North Concourse entails the renovation of the existing valet parking garage to expand retail opportunities as well as access down to Amtrak and NJTransit lower level platforms and up to SEPTA Regional Rail concourses. The new West Underground Concourse connects the station to SEPTA subway and trolley station and expands the capacity of station and retail offerings.

Scope of Work Included:

Arora provided Mechanical and Plumbing, Electrical, Fire Protection, and Special Systems Engineering services for this design/building project. Design services include:

Mechanical Engineering: Arora’s mechanical engineers provided design services for the removal of the existing Veolia district steam service for the portions of the station renovated, and replaced it with a new hot water boiler plant located in the track level mechanical equipment room. The new boiler plant design consisted of gas fired condensing type boilers, which supply relatively low temperature heating hot water to various air handling units (AHUs) and terminal heating equipment. Additionally, the building design included removal of the majority of dated legacy pneumatic controls and air compressors, and replacement with an all new digital Building Automation System (BAS) that monitors and controls all building energy using systems through a web browser.

An extensive suite of utility submeters was provided throughout to monitor all significant utility usages (electricity, domestic water, outdoor and exhaust airflow, natural gas, heating hot and chilled water, etc.). This permits real-time monitoring of all energy usages and allows instantaneous remedial action to minimize Amtrak’s utility costs.

Electrical Engineering: Arora’s electrical engineers reviewed existing electrical systems and recommended all distribution equipment, along with the feeders, branch circuits, etc., be replaced. Additionally, engineers provided designs for the replacement of the existing CETC generator and provided designs for a new generator-powered back-up distribution system, segregated into National Electrical Code (NEC) loads: emergency (i.e. life safety), legally-required, and optional standby.

Plumbing Engineering: Arora’s mechanical engineers provided design services for a new triplex VFD domestic water booster sized for the new demand of the renovated building. Designs for gas fired condensing storage type water heaters were provided in the track-level mechanical room to serve the fixtures on concourse, mezzanine, and track levels.

To promote environmentally sustainable design, engineers provided designs similar to the HVAC heating hot water system inclusive of a shell and tube heat exchanger designed to preheat the domestic hot water. This was a solar thermal heating system supplied with heated fluid from solar collectors on the office tower roof, which acted as a “1st stage” of heating for the domestic system. Full heating of the domestic hot water is provided via this solar thermal system whenever the incident solar flux was adequate, to allow operation without the need to consume natural gas.

Fire Protection Engineering: The fire pump was supplied by connections to no fewer than two water mains located in different streets. Separate supply piping was provided between each connection to the water main and the fire pump(s). Engineers determined that a standpipe system was also required for the building. An automatic wet Class I standpipe ensured a fully sprinklered building. Separate standpipes were provided in each required exit stairway. In addition, the team of engineers provided design services for sprinkler coverage for the platform level back of house, ground level, mezzanine level, second floor office tower north and south, and eighth floor.

Fire Alarm Engineering: The Arora team participated in design services for the necessary Fire Command Center (FCC), containing the emergency voice/alarm communication system, fire department communication system, fire detection and alarm system annunciator, elevator control, status controls for air distribution systems, fire fighter control panel for smoke control systems, control for unlocking interior exit stairway doors, sprinkler valve and waterflow detector display, emergency and standby power status indicators, telephone for fire department use, fire pump status indicators, building plans detailing life safety systems, building information cards, work table, generator supervision devices with manual start and transfer features, elevator fire recall switch, elevator emergency or standby power selector switches, and public address system where required. Design services also included a complete, fully automatic fire alarm system, automatic smoke detection, emergency voice/alarm communication system, and emergency responder radio coverage.

Special Systems: Arora provided specialized services for the data and communication aspect of this station renovation project. The scope of work included new telecommunication equipment, systems, and data/communication to provide a comprehensive, centralized telecommunications network infrastructure. The engineers provided new structured cabling systems, which ensured interconnections between telecommunications rooms, equipment rooms, main terminal space, and entrance facilities. The scope involved backbone cables, intermediate and main cross-connects, mechanical terminations, and patch cords and jumpers used for backbone-to-backbone cross-connections. The backbone also extended between buildings in a campus environment. Additionally, a new main telecommunications distribution room was established for the facility (MDC).


Rendering courtesy of Amtrak.