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News > Advancing Architecture and Design > SEPTA Station Design is on the Winning Track

SEPTA Station Design is on the Winning Track

5th Street / Independence Hall Station Honored with Award
5th Street Station westbound platform, looking east (Jordan Cassway Photography/CWA)
5th Street Station westbound platform, looking east (Jordan Cassway Photography/CWA)

Converse Winkler Architecture, a WBE-certified design firm, is pleased to announce that the renovation of SEPTA’s 5th Street / Independence Hall Station has been named the Best Masonry Construction Project of 2021 by the General Building Contractors Association of Philadelphia.

“Our goals in this project were to bring transparency, ease of navigation and ample lighting to this busy subway stop,” said Mimi Converse Winkler, AIA, LEED AP, founding principal of Converse Winkler Architecture.

Originally built in 1908, the station was last rehabilitated for the 1976 Bicentennial. The new $20.4 million upgrade includes improvements above and below ground:
· At the street level, new glass headhouses on the northwest and southwest corners of 5th and Market highlight two existing station entrances.
· Glass and concrete panels in the pavement cast natural light into subterranean passageways.
· Refurbished stairs lead to a bright, spacious platform arrival.
· Glass partitions separate the circulation area from the platform, enhancing security, orientation and sight-lines for murals.
· Original arches in the vaulted ceiling have been restored and exposed.
· New LED lighting has been deployed throughout the station.
· New ventilation system refreshes the air every two to three minutes.
· The platform walls act as a huge canvas for 400 feet of murals by Germantown artist Tom Judd, featuring diverse historical figures from the region.

“The 5th Street challenge was to embrace the multiple histories of the area, without mimicry or superficial references to the genuine artifacts in Independence Mall,” said Peter Everett Brown, project designer. “Logistically, we were building a ship in a bottle; the station remained open to the public during much of the construction. We needed to be clever, resourceful and nimble.”

The station had atypically low ceilings and much of the original concrete needed repair. The project removed layers of material to reveal the station’s bones and to maximize headroom. Much of the restored structure remains exposed and integrated into the station’s lighting design. Masonry was chosen as a finish material to echo the historic fabric of the neighborhood.

Used by more international tourists than any other station, 5th Street is designed to be a showpiece for the City’s transit system. The station serves "America’s Most Historic Square Mile," within which Independence Hall, National Constitution Center, Liberty Bell Center, President’s House Site, National Museum of American Jewish History and the Independence Visitor Center are located.

The design team for the project included Converse Winkler – Architecture and interior design; Burns Engineering – civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and special-systems engineering.

Converse Winkler Architecture, LLC is a LEED-accredited, WBE-certified architecture and interiors firm that designs spaces where people live, work, learn, play and heal. Founded in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania in 2001, CWA welcomes the opportunity to collaborate closely with clients, many of whom return because the process is enjoyable and the results are satisfying. The firm’s designers and project managers have extensive experience in new construction, renovation, preservation and adaptive reuse projects for public and private clients. Visit


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