New course discusses ‘evolution’ of Main Campus

University Architect Margaret Carney’s new honors-level architecture course is open to all majors.

Margaret Carney, university architect, conducts an introductory lecture about urban design and planning. | Allan Barnes TTN
Margaret Carney, university architect, conducts an introductory lecture about urban design and planning. | Allan Barnes TTN

When University Architect Margaret Carney remembers her undergraduate college campus, she has tears in her eyes.

“I have a bond to the campus that I spent seven years on, and that place belongs to me,” Carney said. “When I go back there, I’m home. I totally feel that, even to this day. Now, Temple is your campus.”

This fall, Carney is teaching her second course at Temple. “Evolution of the Temple Campus,”teaches students about Main Campus on a deeper, architectural level through research and exploration. Carney said the course asks students two questions: “‘Where did we come from,’ and ‘where are we going?’”

Last semester, Carney taught a similar course, “Urban Campuses and Their Impact on American Cities.”

“The students in that course were awesome,” Carney said. “We studied a lot of campuses in that course, but they said, ‘There really ought to be a course that just looks at Temple, because there are a lot of great stories that haven’t been told.’”

Carney said she was also inspired to create a new class by some students’ involvement in Visualize Temple last year.

“When [Visualize Temple] came out last year, there were public sessions where people could come and give their ideas,” Carney said. “But what I heard from students was that they really wanted to know more. … For a lot of them, it wasn’t that they were doubting the plan, but they were curious about it.”

To help satiate students’ curiosities, Carney brought a proposal to Ruth Ost, director of the Honors Program and Kate Wingert-Playdon, chair of the architecture department.

“They were excited about the idea,” Carney said. “Ruth Ost knows what people are looking for, and she gets really excited about new ideas and new coursework.”

Ost helped Carney develop “Evolution of the Temple Campus” into an upper-level honors course that’s available to any student in the Honors Program regardless of their major.

“It’s very interesting, the mix of students,” Carney said. “There’s only one architect in the group. There’s a neuroscience major, a computer science major, a filmmaker.”

Carney is excited to have an interdisciplinary group of students taking this course, including both a freshmen and a nontraditional student who has been on campus for 22 years.

“I expect to learn a lot from the students, because everybody’s experience on the campus is different,” Carney said. “The more people in [class] the better, because the more points of view we have to look at, and the richer it will be.”

To educate her students about the history of Temple’s campus, Carney will take them to the Urban Archives in Paley Library, a collection of primary-source information on Temple’s history. Students will examine current plans through “a lot of just walking on the campus and going to certain places.”

“We’ll spend a lot of time really understanding the current plans and the current buildings,” Carney said. “But at the same time, we’ll be looking at the history. The first building, the second building, that sort of growth.”

Overall, Carney said that her course will juggle the preservation of the past with the “constant change” of the future.

“How do we move forward, but also maintain our roots, and our core values?” Carney said. “It’s not an easy question. It’s very complex.”

Michaela Winberg can be reached at or 215.204.7416.

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