A new $144 million, 300-350,000 square foot library just north of McGonigle Hall on North Broad Street will be a beacon of Temple University’s “more urban and urbane campus,” according to a request for design proposals sent recently to architects.
The project, under the direction of new university architect Margaret Carney, follows on the goals set by Temple’s 2020 Framework masterplan and a 2008 library assessment and includes $50 million in funding from the state, approved by Governor Corbett.
A library, of course, is no longer just a library and this one, which will replace the outmoded 1966 Paley Library on 13th Street, is indicative of our changing architectural expectations. No longer does a library merely function as a storehouse for books and a place for study, but also it must perform. Carney told the Inquirer’s Joe DiStefano she expects the new library to act as a “living room” for the city. It is also expected to serve as a symbol of the University’s rising star in academia and in the city, adapt to research technology, provide social and interactive spaces, ample study facilities, rooms for prestigious specialized collections, and mark a major new axis point for a campus turning itself inside out in order to integrate into the streetlife of the city.
In this last respect, landscape design will play a large role in the overall site plan for the project–fitting for a parcel that was once part of the park-like Monument Cemetery, whose unsettling fate our Katrina Ohstrom documented last year.
About the author
Nathaniel Popkin is the co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and co-producer and senior script editor of the documentary film series "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment." He's the author of Song of the City: An Intimate Portrait of the American Urban Landscape and The Possible City: Exercises in Dreaming Philadelphia.