Long-time coming architecture headquarters open

Architecture students and staff now have a building to call their own on campus. As the first completed project of Temple’s 20/20 plan, the new Architecture Building opened its doors at the beginning of Spring

CHARLOTTE JACOBSON TTN The Architecture Building opened this semester for classes. Professors said the space has been needed for years.

Architecture students and staff now have a building to call their own on campus.

As the first completed project of Temple’s 20/20 plan, the new Architecture Building opened its doors at the beginning of Spring 2012. The building, located at 13th and Diamond streets, is nearly 50,000 square feet and double the area of the previous architecture space.

Brigitte Knowles, the senior associate dean for the architecture department, said her department has been waiting for this building for nearly 40 years, and believes it helps define the program’s identity.

“We have always been housed in buildings that housed other facilities that were not necessarily related to architecture,” Knowles said. “The fact that we have chiseled in concrete the name ‘architecture’ in the front says a lot about identity.”

As a part of Tyler School of Art, the architecture department was originally located at the Elkins Park campus until 2009, when the department moved to the eighth and ninth floors of the College of Engineering building.

Assistant professor Bob Trempe said the new building, which features four floors and six open studios for architecture students, is exactly what the department needs.

“Our facilities were woeful when they started in the engineering building, so to have open flexible space is critical for what we do, how we teach, and what we teach,” Trempe said. “You want a completely open space that is then arranged to the needs because architecture education changes almost every year. We have a space now that is way more flexible to accommodate that change.”

Philadelphia firm H2L2 designed the building so that the space was adaptable to the different needs of the department and the structure of the building is exposed, so the students and visitors can see how the building is constructed.

“It is great how we can see how the building goes together because there are no dropped ceilings hiding anything. We can just look up and see all the ducts, all the beams and how everything goes together,” junior architecture major Brandon Youndt said.

However, sophomore architecture major Nick Lalik said the open studio space fosters one problem: It can get noisy.

“The way the building is set up it echoes a lot, so I’m not sure if it is the material they used, but it gets really noisy when people move chairs and tables,” Lalik said. “When teachers talk it gets hard to hear them.”

In addition to the increased space, the building also features new digital-fabrication equipment and a designated architecture computer lab.

Trempe said he believes that it is tools such as the three new laser cutters and computer numerical control mills that have brought the program up to the 21st century, and gives the department the opportunity to stay competitive and teach students techniques and skills they need to work in the field.

Although the architecture department is not entirely settled into the new space, students, professors and staff agree the space benefits the department, but may take some time to make it feel like home.

“The whole fact that we are in a new building and haven’t settled in yet it feels a little strange,” junior architecture major Ann Dinh said. “I understand why some people may not like it because it is not as homey as the old building. We could do anything we wanted in it, too. In the new building, we have to be careful.”

Not only will the new building benefit the current students, but Knowles said the new space will serve as a key factor in recruiting students.

“It is also a huge plus for recruiting students for the future because when they came and saw us in our cramped spaces they probably thought, ‘Well should we come here or go else where?’” Knowles said. “The fact that they will see facilities that are really good and spacious is important.”

The architecture department will be hosting Architecture Week from April 2 to 6, and will feature events including architecture class reunions, alumni and student roundtable discussions, a career fair and an official reception and inauguration of the new building.

Laura Detter can be reached at laura.detter@temple.edu.

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