Campus Construction: 135 Years and Counting

New buildings are coming to the USC’s campuses — what’s new?

March 01, 2016 Alicia Di Rado

Hints of USC future are in plain sight across the University Park Campus. USC Village’s walls are rising north of Jefferson Boulevard. A new roof now caps the tower of Fertitta Hall at the corner of Exposition and Figueroa. Passersby can even peek through the windows at the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center—at least from a distance.

Cranes twist and turn in the sky, and nothing seems more Trojan than that these days. Come back to USC and you’ll see signs of progress. Lots of you do that every year when you visit the University Park or Health Sciences campuses for classes, games, reunions, shows or time with your sons and daughters.

You might say that USC has been a university under construction since Sept. 4, 1880. That’s when nearly a tenth of the population of the town of Los Angeles gathered to see the cornerstone placed for USC’s first building, now known as the Widney Alumni House. From that first seed, USC never stopped growing.

Sometimes expansion means more than building up and out. It can also require moving pieces around. And that brings us back to the Widney Alumni House. Did you know that the building has changed locations four times throughout the university’s history? It was first built on a site north of Bovard Auditorium, where Founders Park currently sits. In 1907, the house was moved to where you can find the Physical Education Building today. Some 48 years later it was relocated across from Doheny Memorial Library. The peregrinating structure underwent design changes (and housed the USC Thornton School of Music for decades), but was restored in 1977. It settled into its current home on Childs Way in 1997.

Do you have a favorite building that was an unforgettable part of your time at USC? Which space feels timeless and special to you? Are there any USC places that you remember fondly but are no longer with us? Send us your memories of them, and we might include some of your recollections in a future issue.

In our Autumn 2015 issue, we asked you about unexpected places where you’ve bumped into other Trojans. It’s no surprise that the Trojan Family extends worldwide —or maybe even universe-wide (we’ve had at least nine alumni astronauts who have gone into space, including Neil Armstrong MS ’70 and Jim Lovell ’61.)

While we didn’t hear about any chance meetings in orbit this time, Trojans did share stories from just about everywhere else. There’s the story about running into several members of the Class of 1981 while trekking to Machu Picchu. And there’s one about bumping into the former dean of the USC Gould School of Law in a hotel elevator in India. But one of our favorites had a cross-town twist:

Since retiring, my wife and I have traveled extensively. I usually wear my USC Alumni baseball cap, which has gotten us “Fight On!” and “Go, Trojans!” throughout the U.S. and in cities such as Cartagena, Rome and Barcelona. In Istanbul, however, we were walking on a busy street when I heard someone behind me yell, “Go, Bruins!” I snapped my head around and saw three Turkish bus drivers in their distinctly powder-blue jackets. One pointed at me and said with a smile, “I gotcha. I knew I’d getcha.” He did.

Edwin Cohen PhD ’71 (SCJ)