The vacant rowhouses at 1800 Liacouras Walk will finally serve a purpose.
Temple is restoring the façades on the southern and eastern sides of the historic rowhouses and constructing a new building that may be up to five stories high behind the restored walls. The University plans more construction for the area between Berks Walk and Montgomery Avenue over the next year.
This building will be the future home to Student Health Services and the academic centers that now reside in Curtis Hall. Numerous other offices will also move to the new building, although no final decisions have been made about which offices they will be.
At this time, the University is not planning to make any parts of the building dorms or classrooms. There are also no plans to use the building for commercial purposes, although that could be a future possibility.
Andy Riccardi, the Director of Engineering and Construction at Temple, said that the University worked with Philadelphia’s Historical Commission to ensure that each side would be satisfied with the outcome of the construction.
“The building is historically registered with the Historic Society, [therefore] we are keeping the front,” Riccardi said.
Philadelphia’s Historical Commission granted full approval of the project late this summer.
“This was a compromise,” Riccardi said, and mentioned that the Society and the University had a mutual understanding to preserve the historic aspects of the row buildings. He added that the University was sensitive to the history of the buildings, and looking for the most economic way of preserving them.
The authorized budget of this project is $18.6 million dollars, with $2.5 million of that going to restoration, most of which will be used to stabilize the façade.
The new building will be about 75,000 square feet, and will create enough space to house all of the offices moved there, including the cramped Student Health Services, more comfortably.
Since the row buildings were in such poor condition, they were last occupied about five years ago. Even then, there were only a few offices that were being used, which left office space vacant.
Riccardi said that he expects the construction to be completed in November 2005. The building is expected to be ready for move-in around the Christmas holiday, in order to coincide with winter break.
Emily Catalano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.