The urban, 115-acre main campus of this public university, located 1.5 miles north of Center City, grew out of The Temple College of Philadelphia, chartered in 1888. By 1954, the successful institution was continually over-enrolled and crowded, its limited infrastructure comprised of a group of renovated row houses and several disparate academic buildings. The city’s Redevelopment Authority declared the university area an Institutional Development District, setting aside 140 acres for university expansion. In 1955, Nolen & Swinburne Associates developed a master plan which replaced all but seven historic structures with clusters of large Modernist towers emanating from a central, interior plaza. By 1978, the institution had been transformed into a coherent Modernist campus.
Two major open spaces form the core of the campus. At the terminus of Polett Walk, open, tree-shaded lawns surround a square plaza paved with alternating bands of white and gray pavers. From the plaza's center rises the concrete, 105-foot tall Campanile. Running perpendicular to Polette Walk, the once through-street Park Avenue was replaced with Liacouras Walk. The historic row houses occupy the western side of the walk, while the eastern edge is lined with a low serpentine wall and lawn panels planted with mature deciduous trees. Maple trees alternating with lampposts run the length of the walk, which breaks at its center into a circular plaza paved in concentric rings of pink and gray paving. The grounds also include two gardens designed by George Patton and Harriet Pattison: the Johnny Ring Garden and Founders Garden, the final resting place for founder Russell Conwell.