—USC — University of Southern California —
For Old College,USC's second-oldest building,
September 20, 1948 marked the beginning of
the end. Exactly 64 years to the day alter its cornerstone was laid, USC President Fred Fagg announced that the structure had outlived its usefulness. Before the year was out, the sprawling, Victorian edifice was reduced to rubble, and the campus was poised to enter the modern era.
When Old College was built, the entire university consisted of a single modest, two-story wood-framed building—today's Widney Alumni House—which sat on a site the size of two city blocks. The university grew so rapidly, however, that three years after its founding, the Board of Trustees authorized construction of another building. Begun in 1884 and dedicated in 1887, this new building was conceived as the permanent centerpiece of the campus.
Old College was the last major building erected on the campus until 1921, but as early as 1911, there were plans to expand facilities. In
purchased a strip of
land along University
in 1916. After delays
related to funding and World War I, ground was broken for the Bovard Administration Building in 1919, the first structure of USC's much-anticipated "New
Campus." Guiding the transition between old and new was architect John Parkinson,
who developed a master plan for a modern campus with a historical countenance, which he interpreted in the Romanesque style.
Although the groundwork for the new buildings was laid during the tenure of President George Finley Bovard, it was his successor, Rufus B. von KleinSmid, who brought it to fruition. During the first ten years of his administration, USC built nine new permanent structures, including the Student Union, Mudd Hall, the Physical Education
Building and Doheny Memorial
Library. In all, Von KleinSmid
spearheaded the construction of
19 new buildings over 25 years.
Fred Fagg succeeded Von KleinSmid as president in 1946, and with a surging enrollment fueled by returning GI's, he too was faced with the challenge of providing USC with adequate facilities. Founders Hall (remodeled as Taper Hall of Humanities), which replaced Old College, was the first classroom building constructed in a decade. Fagg also strived to make the campus more coherent and hospitable. By 1951, USC had acquired all the land along University Avenue. In 1953, the city of Los Angeles granted the university permission to close the street to traffic.
In 1958, Norman Topping became USC's seventh president. At his inauguration, he announced that new facilities were again a top priority, this time specifically to support efforts to elevate USC's academic standing.
Three years later, he announced the most ambitious capital campaign in university history, the Master Plan for Enterprise and Excellence in Education, with half the $106 million goal designated
for buildings. Architect William L.
Pereira developed a new master
plan, which increased campus size
from 95 to 156 acres and encompassed such new buildings as the.
Andrus Gerontology Center, Von
KleinSmid Center, Seaver Science
Center, Hoffman Hall and Loker
Hydrocarbon Institute. Ninety nine new buildings were built
between 1961 and 1979.
Future capital campaigns
changed USC's landscape further,
but the most coordinated effort
accompanied preparations for the 1984 Olympics. University Avenue and Childs Way were transformed
into pedestrian malls—changes that had been part of
Pereira's master plan and that helped the campus shed
its past as a scattered campus in a city grid. Plazas and fountains were added; kiosks and benches were built; lampposts were installed, and trees planted.
Today, just as USC continues to revise its curriculum and services to remain responsive to the needs of its community, so it continues to rework the campus itself. Like the learning it supports, the campus is an environment where the only constant is change, destined to remain a work in progress.