At the heart of Temple University’s Main Campus, Sikora Wells Appel led a 3.5 million-dollar reimagining of an historic, 1960s-era Modernist sunken garden, originally designed by renowned landscape architect George Patton. While honoring the original design intent of the garden, many updates and additions were made, including a new water feature, new lighting, seating, paving, and planting.
Behind the bust and grave site of the University’s founder, a double-sided water wall was added, along with flanking granite steps. On the upper side of the wall, the water feature forms a backdrop for a new bronze Temple Owl statue, while on the lower side, it forms a backdrop for the bust and grave, and helps filter noise from the garden. Both sides of the water wall are clad in custom, hand-carved domestic granite that subtly references the founder’s famous “Acres of Diamonds” speech. On axis with the bust, a new curved granite seatwall was installed, and moveable tables and chairs were placed within the garden for more flexible seating. All paving within the garden was upgraded and includes 17 engraved granite medallions for each of the University’s schools and colleges, along with an inlaid Temple “T”. New permeable brick paving within Polett Walk extends the new campus standard for this major pedestrian arterial between Liacouras Walk and 13th Street. All lighting within the garden was also upgraded, and new custom steel archways were designed over each main entrance to the garden, to honor project donors. A shady, native woodland garden palette inspired the upper levels, and a sunny mixed border was the inspiration along Polett Walk. Species that are at their best during spring Commencement and at the beginning of the Fall semester were favored.
Along with the recently completed Lenfest Circle (also led by Sikora Wells Appel), the future Campus Green and the future Library (both adjacent to this project), Founder’s Garden will play an enormous role in the transformation of Temple University.