Temple Alums Go Above and Beyond for Reading Railroad

The American Society of Landscape Architects presented two Temple alums with Student Excellence awards for their Above, Below, Beyond project. Diana Fernandez and Amy Syverson graduated from Temple’s Ambler campus in spring of 2012.

For a senior studio project, they were presented with the idea to come up with a master plan and solo plans to repurpose the Reading Railroad. The Reading Railroad used to be a dependable source for Philadelphia before it was shut down 1984. The railroad stretches over 3 miles and goes above and below the ground. Amy Syverson said, “It was a major deal and along the Reading Railroad was Matheus Baldwin’s Locomotive Works and they built a lot of trains and it really made major industry here possible.”

Temple University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture used this site to base their student’s studio designs, but for two Temple alums this in-class project had potential to form into larger designs.  After graduation, Diana and Amy decided to bring in more people to make their plans possible future proposals. Diana Fernandez said, “One of my ideas was to incorporate transit.” Amy mentioned, “My recommendation was to do something like an art piece down there so make it into a giant camera obscura.”

The alums, alongside with their partner Susan Kolber from the University of Penn, received awards for the Above, Below, Beyond project this past Monday, November 18th. This exhibition showcased their ideas to transform the abandoned space.

The attention the railroad is receiving is partially due to Amy and Diana joining a Kickstarter campaign last year that raised over $6,000. Overall, repurposing the Reading Railroad is going to be a long process, but this goes to show that students being passionate about their work can create endless opportunities.

Diana believes, “Students taking work outside of the classroom is a really valuable thing, taking your projects and not just after the studio you throw them away, you never look at our projects again; it’s sort of taking it to another level and exploiting social media. It’s out there.”

For more information, go to AboveBelowBeyond.org.

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