Temple Times Online Edition
    JANUARY 20, 2005
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Projects to create more space for entertainment, meeting

Creating more space takes time. It also takes up space. Anyone walking through the heart of the Main Campus has probably had to take a detour or two — off the sidewalk and into the street in the closed-off block of 13th Street, or through the pedestrian corridor on Liacouras Walk just north of Montgomery Avenue.

Two major construction projects now under way — the addition to the Student Center and the renovation of the townhouses in the 1800 block of Liacouras Walk — will soon make those minor inconveniences a distant memory when they are completed in the fall, providing much-needed additional space and enhanced facilities for the University’s burgeoning campus community.

The two projects are also part of more than $400 million in new construction or renovations now under way or about to begin at Temple.

The Student Center

With an expected September completion date, the four-story addition to the Student Center — phase II of a $44.8 million renovation and expansion — will add 86,000 square feet of new space wholly dedicated to student activities and services. It will also provide a permanent home for facilities that have been temporarily displaced by the construction — a 150-seat cinema and a game room double the size of its predecessor — and add a nonalcoholic student entertainment hub.

The new building will have a separate entrance on 13th Street, just below Montgomery Avenue, and will also be connected to the original Student Center on the first and second floors.

“With so many more students living on or near campus who are active in student organizations and want an enhanced campus experience, the Student Center addition is so necessary,” Vice President for Student Affairs Theresa Powell said. “This will give our students many more places to gather.”

Two years ago, an average of 15,000 people came through the Student Center each day, according to Powell. “And we know that number has increased since 2002,” she said.
Here’s a look at what the Student Center addition and renovations will include:

On the lower level, the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union will relocate to another space in the current Student Center to make way for a new Graphics Media Center for student use. An attractive, upscale student entertainment center will feature music and dancing and is expected to quickly become a favorite student hangout. The new cinema (currently in a temporary location in the Tuttleman Learning Center), a 150-seat theater, will also find a permanent home on the lower level.

On the first floor, an expanded game room (now temporarily relocated to the Bell Building) will offer pool tables, table tennis and electronic games. In addition, students will find designated study areas, a social lounge and a new TV lounge. A new lounge area adjacent to the food court will be specially geared to provide on-campus conveniences for commuting students, with microwave ovens and lockers for storage.

An elevator lobby on the main floor of the new addition will provide access to the upper-level offices and meeting rooms for the growing number of student organizations that have particularly felt the pinch of inadequate space.

“We have 156 registered student organizations — that’s 30 more than five years ago,” said Rita Calicat, director of student services. “Meeting space has been at a real premium, and we simply haven’t been able to accommodate all their requests.”

Meeting room space will be flexible and outfitted with smart technology, with hardwired connections for permanent offices and a wireless environment elsewhere in the building with expanded laptop rental available.

Among the offices relocating to the new space are the Dean of Students office, Student Activities, the Student Assistance Center, Temple Student Government, the University Disciplinary Committee, the Program Board, Student Publications, the Templar and The Temple News.

While distinctive in design, the $30 million Student Center II will be both visually and spatially integrated with the renovated original.

“In addition to making sure that people could flow easily from one building to another, it was important to maintain a sense of continuity architecturally,” says Marvin Gerstein, Temple’s director of planning and design. With its glass façade, Student Center II will clearly show its connectedness. The architectural consultant for the project is the design firm H2L2.

After the initial excavation and relocation of the underground utilities that were located in the project site, the next phase of construction will involve putting in the concrete foundation and erecting the structural steel beams.

“Phase I of the Student Center project, which cost $14.8 million, included renovations to the food court and dining facility and adding the atrium, which has become an exciting, attractive gathering place for students and has allowed wheelchair access via the main building entrance,” noted Robert Buchholz, associate vice president for facilities management. “Phase II will significantly expand and enhance the dedicated student space on campus.”

From the project’s inception, students have had input into the planning and design process, according to Powell. “Focus groups and surveys of our students have helped determine the space needs and allocation,” she said. “The end result is the culmination of all of those conversations to create the optimal campus experience for our students.”

1800 Liacouras Walk

Along the 1800 block of Liacouras Walk, the long-vacant row houses are undergoing major reconstruction as the University moves to bring the 150-year-old historic buildings back into active use.

“The design challenge was to retain the historic façade while creating new, usable space behind that façade,” Gerstein said.

Plans call for restoring the façades along the eastern and southern sides of the historically certified row houses and replacing the rear portions of the buildings with new construction. Workers have stabilized the façades with structural steel supports — the “Erector set” beams passersby can see supporting the sides of the building. They will remain in place while the building behind them is demolished and until the new five-story building is completed and structurally tied in to the façades, according to Buchholz.

Slated to occupy the new building are: Student Health Services, the Academic Resource Center, the College of Liberal Arts Advising Center and the Math/Science Learning Center. As all of these student-centered services have expanded to serve a steadily growing student population (particularly those living on and near campus), they have simply outgrown their once-adequate, but now overcrowded, spaces.

“The planned relocation of Student Health Services to 1800 Liacouras Walk, along with new revenues from increased enrollment, will allow SHS to hire more providers and expand services to meet the increasing demands that have resulted from the growth in student enrollment over the last several years,” said Joseph Rudy, director of clinical development for Temple University Physicians and administrative director of SHS. “As is the case in many medical practices, and SHS is no exception, space is one of the primary limiting factors in the delivery of efficient, cost-effective health care. A larger waiting room space and triage area and an increased number of exam rooms will allow a more efficient flow of students through the center.

“Additionally, the new space allows us to explore the possibility of expanding the scope of services currently offered. By providing new initiatives such as nutritional support, exercise counseling, a 24-hour nursing advice hotline and mental health services, we decrease the amount of outside referrals, which translates into less cost for our students.”

At the northern end of the building facing Shusterman Hall, a large multipurpose function room will have a two-story window overlooking the mall area outside.

The new building, which will be approximately 75,000 square feet, is budgeted at $18.6 million, with $2.5 million designated for the restoration work, most of which will be used to stabilize the façade.

Like the Student Center addition, 1800 Liacouras Walk will have an unfinished top floor to allow for future growth and development. “Because of the limited available land on an urban campus such as ours, we need to be mindful of future needs that we may have not yet identified,” Gerstein explained.

The anticipated move-in to the new building is December.

- By Harriet Goodheart