Temple University is in the last phases of construction for Liacouras Walk South, a paved sidewalk and plaza between Cecil B. Moore Avenue, 13th Street, Montgomery and Broad. The area is set to open in the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester, said Martin Droz, interim associate vice president for the Project Delivery Group.
“It’s going to be a tremendous addition to the campus,” said James Templeton, director of architectural services. “It’s not just a new paved version of what was there before, it’s actually creating gathering space. It will add an amazing social aspect to the campus that doesn’t exist.”
Temple’s Board of Trustees approved the $8-million project in March as part of the university’s landscape master plan to increase the number of green spaces on campus, The Temple News reported. Construction began in May, Droz wrote in an email to The Temple News.
When completed, the project will create two new plazas near the north entrance of the Ritter Annex. The first plaza will be a grass quad with a built-in bench area and landscaping around the perimeter. The second plaza will have a fountain, landscaping and a seating area, including stone seating and tables with chairs, Templeton said.
Liacouras Walk South will also include brighter sidewalk lighting, new paving and a slope for wheelchair access. Currently, the area has only a small ramp to the side for wheelchair access, so the new slope will increase convenience and accessibility, Templeton said.
“The project’s sort of a reimagining of Liacouras Walk South,” Templeton said. “Not just a repaving project, which was desperately needed, honestly, the lighting was deteriorating and the paving was becoming dangerous.”
The Project Delivery Group, a team composed of architects, construction managers and support staff that manages construction projects at the university, is working on two plazas. One will feature a grass quad and the other will be a paved plaza, which will be completed within the next month, Templeton said.
The last phase of construction will involve sidewalk paving, lighting, signage, trees, landscape and improved accessibility for Ritter Annex, and is expected to be finished by the spring, he added.
To accommodate the construction, Temple has closed portions of the sidewalk since March, requiring people to instead walk around the construction site on 13th Street or Broad Street, The Temple News reported. Also, part of the sidewalk on Cecil B. Moore Avenue has been closed to accommodate the project’s last phase of construction, Templeton said.
“It would be an issue with just transportation and getting to classes on time,” said Amber Hernandez, a senior public health major.
The visual design process for Liacouras Walk South started in Spring 2020 to determine what the project would look like, Templeton wrote in an email to The Temple News.
The next step of the process included receiving a zoning permit from the City of Philadelphia in May 2021 and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry permit in March 2021, to begin construction, Droz wrote in an email to The Temple News.
“There haven’t been many setbacks,” Droz said. “We’ve actually had a pretty smooth construction process. We’re on schedule, right where we anticipated we were going to be.”
The Project Delivery Group procured extra materials before beginning construction to ensure they could continue working even if they experienced delays receiving materials for some areas of the site, Droz said.
Campus construction projects are planned years in advance and all schools and colleges within the university impacted by construction are notified ahead of time, Droz said.
“We have a good working relationship with those colleges, and there was really no issue, they knew this was coming up,” he added.
Temple’s leadership embraced the project, Templeton said. They helped the project gain approval from the Philadelphia Water Department because it will manage more stormwater than before.
“It was scheduled for renovation, but we just didn’t want to just do paving, we wanted to bring in new life to it,” Templeton said.
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