It’s almost hard to avoid the amount of construction that has been going on.
Temple engineering and construction officials are planning designs that will continue the trend in renovations and construction occurring on Main campus for years to come.
Many feel there has been more of a construction boom this year than in years past.
The associate vice president for facilities management, Robert Buchholz, points out that this year has already seen the completion of the Joe First Media Center and the shops on Liacouras Walk, as well as renovations at the Kardon Building and Barrack Hall.
Last year saw the opening of a new residence hall and the renovated Student Center.
“Students are looking for more places to interact outside of the classroom,” Buchholz said.
“We’re trying to create places where you can sit down with a cup of coffee and meet with a group. Our hope is to continue making this campus a place for students to interact.”
Space issues have forced Buchholz to look into acquiring off campus property to construct new buildings to accommodate the increasing number of people on campus.
There are currently over a dozen available plots of land that surround Main campus and are available for development by Temple, the city of Philadelphia, or by private firms.
The vacant city lots at 12th and Norris, and 11th and Montgomery have both been targeted for the $53 million relocation of the Tyler School of Art.
Buchholz says the project is in the programming phase and that no final design or location has been chosen.
Once the programming is complete, Buchholz says he will make a formal proposal to the President and Board.
From there, he said a request goes to the state for the funds needed to do the work.
“The preferred site for the Tyler relocation is obviously 12th and Norris, because we want to try and keep all of the arts together,” he said.
The lot at 15th and Cecil B. Moore has been vacant and closed off since the completion of the Liacouras Center and the Apollo Garage in 1997.
Temple officials promised in the mid-90s to turn the site into a community education center as sign of their commitment to the redevelopment of Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Buchholz says that $16 million in funding needed for this project is already in place and that groundbreaking will occur in late October.
He expects construction to be finished by March 2004.
“This is going to be a Temple building used by the community, as well as Temple students,” Buchholz said.
“It will eventually house a restaurant, street-level commercial space, computer lab, WRTI and programs for the area’s elderly and youth.”
The empty lot at Broad and Cecil B. Moore is set to undertake a $50 million private retail development that will include a Magic Johnson multiplex theater, two theme restaurants, a music/book retailer, an entertainment venue, athletic shoe store, clothing store, parking garage and student apartments.
Buchholz hopes that the center’s development paired with the future development at Broad and Cecil B. Moore will motivate the city or a private housing developer to develop the row of abandoned properties on Sydenham Street.
Also planned on campus is the second phase of construction at the Student Center.
The nearly $30 million project already has funding in place and will renovate 73,000 square feet of the Student Center as well as add an additional 50,000 square feet to the south side of the building.
The needed $2-5 million for replacing the roof at the Baptist Temple was approved by the Board of Trustees earlier this year, Buchholz said.
Buchholz says the School of Music is attempting to raise the funds so the building can be made into a performance area.
“What we’re trying to do is go in and put on a new roof and seal the building so that it has a good structural and environmental integrity,” he said.
“We want to keep the building from getting worse, so that if somebody does want to come in and support the school that they will have a sound building.”
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Progress Plaza will soon undergo a $15 million overhaul, as well.
When completed the plaza will feature a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, a drug store, fashion stores, local and national retailers.
Buchholz says that Tyler’s relocation and the planned renovations to Temple Towers and Speakman Hall depend on state action.
“When we put up any of these sites depends on when the funds are available,” Buchholz said.
“You’ve got new elections coming up, so you have to ask, is the money still going to be there from the state?
“We’re waiting to see what the legislature is going do and see what happens in there — that determines when I start to work,” he said.
“In the meantime, my job is to keep moving things along so that when the programming is done I can tell the President how much money I need to get things started.”
Since his arrival at Temple in January, Buchholz has toured the different facilities on campus with President David Adamany.
But the thought of being squeezed in has many students and staff members worried.
The renovations at the Kardon Building forced the relocation of the grounds department and other workers in Facilities to new locations on campus.
After working for more than a decade in their own building with garage workspace, the grounds crew office is now located in a trailer behind Anderson Hall.
Meanwhile, the maintenance equipment that the department once stored in the entrance of what is now the lobby of the Kardon building is now housed on the ground level of the Bell Garage.
The relocation caused the entire Bell Garage to be renovated and also cost students a level of parking.
“We need to go through the existing buildings and bring those buildings up to better standards,” Buchholz said.
“We’re going to try and continue to enhance the space that we do have and make it more useful for students.”
Chris Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org