You can see the blueprint slowly taking shape among the emerging Temple campus.
Both Alter Hall and the Tyler School of Art mark the latest additions to the growing oasis located in North Philadelphia.
Temple is in the process of executing its Master Plan for the university’s urban renewal.
Former Temple President Peter Liacouras’ vision for redeveloping the university’s Main Campus involved developing more student housing at both sides of the campus, including new classrooms and laboratories to replace the outdated facilities, adding shops and restaurants and building a sports arena on campus.
His plan, however, was sometimes criticized as an effort to insulate Main Campus from the surrounding North Philadelphia neighborhood.
The idea was never fully implemented, though. However, the campus has nevertheless undergone a major makeover including both renovation and innovation.
The Liacouras Center began the transformation that included Liacouras Walk, the spine of Main Campus.
After the area was completed, additions like Tuttleman Learning Center, a new Center City campus, multiple dorms, an expanded Student Center and the highly-touted TECH Center were included.
“We reshaped the message of the university,” said Liacouras, regarded by some as perhaps the most important figure in Temple’s 125-year history. “People said we were abandoning Philadelphia schools, but no, we were reshaping who we were structurally.
“We didn’t have a large enough base in Philly to increase our student body. So, we went out of the city, we developed partnerships with the community colleges. We were giving more opportunities, not less.”
Cope Linder Architects was asked to complete a rendering of what Liacouras’ idea would look like. The firm had used the idea of closing 13th Street and filling in streets intersecting the campus with brick, concrete and stone, including an organic overhaul adding trees, flowers and an area for the lunch trucks that now occupy 13th Street and Montgomery Avenue.
Cope Linder partner Robert Keppel described the group’s approach to the design.
“We were of the opinion that Temple should close 13th street, and should follow suit of John Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania in improving community relations in order to expand.”
Temple’s future is bright, and with new buildings, new ideas and a restored venue to accentuate intelligence, the result will inevitably include inspiration and imagination.
Tom Rowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.