A meeting between the Board of Trustees and Temple administrators on Nov. 20 to review the Visualize Temple master plan led to the final decision to place a new library in the area of the to-be-demolished Barton Hall, a strategic move in a plan that aims to create an academic center of campus.
The site is the final location after more than a year of planning and speculation that moved the library from its original destination on the other side of North Broad Street.
Conceived as a “signature building” on North Broad Street and replacement to the aging Paley Library as part of Temple’s 20/20 master plan in 2009, the new library’s original location was planned for the area occupied by the Student Pavilion.
That changed in January when President Neil Theobald took over as head of Temple’s administration. Theobald said last spring that the library design would be moved to the east side of campus to prevent a meshing of the athletics prevalent west of Broad Street and academics on the east side.
This fall, despite repeated denials from members of the president’s administration, several media outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported that the university was planning to update Paley Library instead of building a replacement.
Jim Creedon, senior vice president of construction, facilities and operations, said with the exception of the location of the new library, no plans for Visualize Temple have been formalized. However, he said the university
will develop a reuse of Paley Library in preparation for the opening of the new library.
While no formal plans were ever made for the Barton Hall site under the 20/20 initiative, Creedon previously said it was looked at as an area to add more green space. The design of the library, which is being developed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta, has yet to be finalized, and Creedon said it is unclear how much of the Barton site will be taken up by the new library.
Creedon said Visualize Temple is running in conjunction with a landscape master plan that will look at the area surrounding the new library as the center of campus to add more green space and a possible quad.
“Our open space between [Sullivan Hall and Anderson and Gladfelter halls] is actually bigger than Harvard Yard,” Creedon said. “It doesn’t feel like one continuous space because we have 13th Street running in between and we’ve got some distractions along the way.”
Following the announcement, students reacted in different ways to the plan to use the site of Barton Hall for a new library.
“I think it would be awesome to bring that green element to campus,” said James Pugliese, a junior environmental science major, speaking on the former plans for the site. “[The library] seems a bit of a way to spend more of our tuition money, green space would be better.”
“I don’t really see the need for a new library, [Paley Library] is helpful to me,” said Sean Kelly, a senior film and media arts major. “I would like to see more nature on the college campus.”
“We could use another TECH Center-like space, but I don’t think we need another library,” said Ed Wegemann, a senior media studies and production major.
In a statement released Nov. 22, Dean of University Libraries Joseph Lucia reiterated plans by Snøhetta, which designed libraries at North Carolina State University and Ryerson University in Toronto, that the new library would utilize more space for studying and social interaction.
“The big fulcrum of change is a shift in the emphasis from the library as a repository of books to the library as a place for sharing of ideas and new knowledge,” Lucia said.
The meeting between administrators and the Board of Trustees, held on Nov. 20, was the second of the year between the two groups, with the first held in August. Creedon said Temple and SmithGroupJJR, the firm tasked with the development of Visualize Temple, presented several other preliminary ideas to the board, none of which were decided upon or announced. “There were some options discussed, but none of them are really ready for prime time,” Creedon said.
On the night of Nov. 20, the day of the board’s meeting on Visualize Temple, Trustee Lewis Katz announced a $25 million donation to the university, the largest in school history. Katz did not specify what the donation was for.
In addition to Katz’ surprise announcement, President Theobald told a group of close to 100 alumni at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia the university is in “serious discussion” on the development of an on-campus football stadium to replace Lincoln Financial Field as the Owls’ home turf. The university’s $1.5 million annual contract with the Linc ends after 2018.
Theobald, when asked about a football stadium project, connected it with the Visualize Temple master plan, saying it would “likely include, at some point, a football stadium.”
Creedon said the university’s research into the prospect of an on- or near-campus football stadium is being conducted on its own schedule, with the school looking into the future of athletics, planning and finances. The overall blueprint of the master plan is scheduled to be announced between March and June 2014, Creedon said.
“If it is ready in time to be a part of the master plan, it could be – if not, we have done our due diligence,” Creedon said.
The university’s plan for Visualize Temple will focus on new development around a segmented campus broken up into different areas of study.
SmithGroup’s design format, which was displayed to students at an open meeting in September, targets Main Campus’ north side along Norris Street as the creative section, with the School of Media and Communication, Tyler School of Art and the Boyer College of Music and Dance.
Science and technology will be located on the east side along 12th Street, where the Science Education and Research Center will open in Fall 2014. The southern end of campus will feature the university’s professional programs, including the Fox School of Business, Beasley School of Law and the College of Education.
The new library, along with the reuse of Paley Library and Tuttleman Learning Center, will represent the campus’ academic core, while the west side along Broad Street will be designated the face of the university, according to SmithGroup and administrators.
“Broad Street needs to become our public front porch in a lot of ways,” Creedon said.
Construction on the $190 million, 200,000 to 300,000 square-foot library will start following the demolition of Barton Hall, which is scheduled to begin in summer 2015 after class and office space is moved to the CERC and Wachman Hall.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.