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Massive mixed-use residential village on USC’s Los Angeles campus on schedule to open this fall

University Buildings

Massive mixed-use residential village on USC’s Los Angeles campus on schedule to open this fall

Prefabrication of the six buildings’ walls reduced construction time by a year. 

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | March 8, 2017

USC Village, a six-building, 1.25-million-sf expansion of the University of Southern California's University Park campus, will be ready for occpancy this fall. The project took 12 years from conception to completion. Image: USC

This month, work crews began moving furniture, fixtures and equipment into USC Village, the biggest development project in the history of South Los Angeles, which is on schedule to be ready for the fall semester at the University of Southern California’s University Park campus.

The $700 million, 15-acre USC Village, which has been in the works since 2005, will consist of six buildings with a total of 1.25 million sf of space and 2,700 student beds. There will be eight residential colleges within USC Village, four of which had been endowed at presstime. 

To view a flyover of the Village’s construction site, click here.

When USC Village was conceived, it was one of the first mixed-use residential college projects in the nation, and when completed it will include 100,000 sf of retail space for 30 tenants such as Bank of America, Starbucks, Target, and Trader Joe’s (which will be welcomed in South L.A. a food desert when it comes to supermarkets).

The Village will also have food and beverage outlets, and a 30,000-sf fitness center. The Village will provide 1,200 covered bike-parking slots, and another 500 slots for day-to-day bike parking by patrons of the gym or retail stores.

The exterior design of USC Village is best described as “collegiate gothic,” and reflects the mandate by USC’s president C.L. Max Nikias that the look of the Village be connected to the rest of the campus. “We could introduce any design feature, as long as it was gothic,” says Daniel Benjamin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal and Design Leader for Harley Ellis Devereaux, USC Village’s architect.

That meant a lot of detailing at the ground plane and roof level, but more traditional brick façade in the middle.

Benjamin notes that there weren’t enough masons in southern California to handle of project of this magnitude. So instead of importing workers from other parts of the state, the Building Team—which includes Hathaway Dinwiddie as the GC—decided to precast the concrete facades off site, typically delivered in 12- by 20-ft modules. Brick trimmed with sandblasted warm-colored concrete surrounds gives the buildings a three-dimensional sense of detail.

Prefabrication also cut the construction process, which began in June 2014, by nearly a year. These buildings are designed to last 80-100 years.

During the approval process, three major changes were made to USC Village’s plan, recalls Willy Marsh, USC’s director of construction. A large parking garage with a field on its roof became underground parking. High-rise residential towers became low-rise buildings. And a much larger retail center was de-emphasized. “The decision was made that retail wasn’t going to drive this project,” says Marsh.



The buildings' facade consists of precast concrete and brickface that mimics older buildings on campus. Image: USC

USC Village comprises about 20% of the University Park campus, and Nikias, says Benjamin, wanted the connections to be seamless. So the Village’s pathways and streets flow seamlessly into the larger campus’s circulation routes. More than 200 trees will be planted within and around the Village.

This campus is an integral part of the surrounding community. As part of this project, USC is providing $40 million in community benefits, including a $20 million contribution to an affordable housing fund that is managed by the city.

The number of student beds could increase to 5,000 if USC decides to redevelop a 12-acre lot adjacent to USC Village. Marsh says that project could be a decade away.

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