A question of education

University of Southern California holds dedication ceremony for new 6-level interdisciplinary facility

by Sian 23 October 2014


The University of Southern California (USC) recently held an official dedication ceremony for the new state-of-the-art Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall, the university's first interdisciplinary social sciences building, designed by HKS Architects.

The six-level, 110,000 sq ft facility is named in honour of the US $30 million gift from Dr. Dauterive and her late husband, Peter W. Dauterive, a 1949 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business. The building will house programmes and researchers from across the university.

Four centres have already moved into Dauterive Hall: The USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, which promotes health and value in health care delivery; The Center for Economic and Social Research, which conducts research in behavioral and social sciences; The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, which seeks approaches that unite people across partisan lines; and The USC Dornsife Mind and Society Center, which addresses basic questions about the human experience.

"There is no other building like it on campus," said Elizabeth Garrett, USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. "The building is not reserved for researchers in any single school. It is for collaborative and interdisciplinary research in the social sciences that requires expertise coming together across many fields." Dauterive Hall contains research laboratories, classrooms and a six-storey atrium, serving as the centrepiece of the collaborative environment.

Collaborative spaces
The design embraces the current thinking in educational and research environments, that creating spaces that foster collaboration leads to more effective research and learning. How we learn is constantly evolving and is often ambiguous in nature, requiring a high degree of flexibility to accommodate the widest possible range of scenarios that may need to be supported over time.

The interior architecture is characterised by open plans and modern finishes, contrasting with the highly articulated exterior designed in the collegiate gothic vocabulary. The atrium is located at the centre of the building, with public gathering spaces and circulation located around it on each floor. Research, institute, administrative and classroom spaces have their entrances on this public core, with the objective to draw staff out of their offices and encourage discussion and intermingling between researchers of different backgrounds in these common spaces. Chance encounters are increased as a result of views from level to level in the atrium and welcoming communicating stairs that are enhanced with views into the atrium.

At the base of the atrium, the ground floor and lower level are linked by a 20 ft-wide central stair populated with seating platforms that can function as small gathering spaces or turn the stair into an amphitheater for lectures and presentations. Sunlight streams into the atrium via a 1200 sq ft skylight, illuminating a 60-foot suspended sculpture entitled ‘ascending thoughts'.

'Favourite place'
A ground-floor café provides sustenance for researchers and students. Upper-level exterior terraces act as places of respite, as well as outdoor collaboration and meeting spaces, taking full advantage of the beautiful California weather.

"Because we believe in creating spaces that enhance the human experience, it is highly gratifying for us to learn that the building has already become a favourite place to be on campus. The atrium is full of energy created by the coming together of researchers, faculty and students, just as we had intended" said Thom Greving, HKS Design Director.

Designed to achieve U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver certification, the sustainable design features include showers to encourage commuting by bicycle; locally controlled air-conditioning to conserve energy; and abundant natural light to reduce the need for artificial light.

"Education is a means to create knowledge and empower people to thrive as individuals and contribute to our community. As designers there is no greater reward than collaborating with a great client to generate innovative ideas that result in a beautiful building," said Michael Kim, HKS Principal in Charge.



Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team