University further develops plan for new library

The 210,000 square-foot building includes a “green roof,” balcony, and robotic system for retrieving books.

The new library planned for the intersection of Liacouras and Polett walks is slated for completion by 2018. | IMAGE COURTESY OF SNØHETTA

The Board of Trustees’ Facilities committee on Monday heard reports about Visualize Temple, the master plan for new construction on Temple’s campuses – including the specific design and size of the new library to be located where Barton Hall now stands.

The 210,000 square-foot library is expected to cost $190 million and will be bordered by Norris Street to the north, Liacouras Walk to the west, Polett Walk to the south, and the upcoming quad to the east, as The Temple News reported in October. The quad, encompassing a whole city block, will be completed once Beury Hall and the Biology-Life Sciences building are demolished.

The state has put up $140 million for the project. Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Senior Vice President for Finance Ken Kaiser said in an email that $90 million of the state aid is an accumulation of saved-up state grants which Temple had received annually. The remaining $50 million of the aid is in the form of a “one-off” state grant, he said.

“The state provides off-plan funding in an effort to jump start projects and ensure they move forward in a timely manner,” Kaiser said of the state’s $50 million contribution. “From the state’s perspective their contributions are supporting economic development, including job creation.”

The remaining $50 million of the projected cost will come from university funds.

The library – designed by Snøhetta, one of Norway’s leading architecture firms – will have an archway over the entrance and a “green roof” with plant growth. One of the upper floors will have an outdoor balcony offering views of Main Campus.

Jim Creedon, executive vice president for facilities, construction, and operations, said Snøhetta and Stantec – an architectural firm located on Spring Garden Street – were selected through an application process run by the state.

“Over 30 firms submitted proposals to do this project,” Creedon said. “The state allowed us to take a look at the proposals and give our sense of the firms.”

Creedon said Temple and a state selections committee eventually narrowed that down to three firms, who were interviewed by state officials, members of Temple’s Board of Trustees, the Provost’s office, library staff members and staff in Creedon’s office.

The library will feature spaces for quiet study, group activities, and events, as well as 3D printing and a “robotic text-retrieval system” in which an automated crane retrieves books from a depository at visitors’ request.

Creedon said the retrieval system will work like a “well-organized closet,” saving space by minimizing the amount of space books will take up in the library’s floor plan.

“It’s a big plus,” Creedon said. “It cuts down on the amount of space you have to build to store books, it keeps the books in a much more safe environment. It also cuts down on your energy costs because you’re not heating or cooling massive amounts of space.”

Creedon said he was unsure of how the new system would affect the amount of student workers, given the other areas throughout the library’s interior. He did admit that the number of student workers reshelving books would probably decrease as a result of the system.

Creedon added that a “really rough estimate” of the projected cost of the retrieval system is between $6 and $7 million.

The future of Paley Library remains uncertain, Creedon said. He added that many future plans and developments with the building will come out in the next six to eight months.

In terms of the new library, the next step is determining the layout of the building’s interior, Creedon said.

“It’s not only what [the interior] is going to look like, but what it’s going to be,” Creedon said. “How it’s going to flow, where there are going to be places for students to sit, special collections, events, a computer area and technology areas … there’s all kind of factors that go into the building itself.”

President Theobald said he envisioned the library “being at the core” of Temple’s academic footprint.

“The library will do for campus learning what Morgan Hall did for campus living,” Theobald told the trustees at a Tuesday meeting.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015 with completion set for 2018.

Visualize Temple, released Oct. 31, also details plans for new buildings for the College of Public Health, converting the outdoor football practice facility Edberg-Olson Hall into an indoor space, and renovating Wachman Hall’s first through fourth floors for additional classroom space.

Joe Brandt and Steve Bohnel be reached at

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