Monday, August 21, 2017

"Disneyland meets Hogwarts at $700-million USC Village"

“And let’s always remember, the looks of the University Village give us 1,000 years of history we don’t have. Thank you, and fight on!”


Covering 1.25-million square feet on a 15-acre site bounded by Jefferson Boulevard, McClintock Avenue and Hoover Street, it represents a major expansion of USC’s architectural footprint north of Jefferson and into the city at large. Along with residential suites for more than 2,500 students — a nearly 25% expansion of campus housing for undergraduates — its six five-story buildings hold a fitness center, classrooms, a dining hall and ground-floor retail spaces, open to the public, that include a Target and Trader Joe’s.

The completed Village suggests that however effective the thousand-years slogan might be as a fundraising pitch, it’s a shaky foundation for new architecture. With its Gothic ornament, peaked arches and 150-foot clock tower, the complex is a fantasia of just-add-water heritage, equal parts Disneyland and Hogwarts.

Even more striking, the Village barely pretends to have the courage of its neo-trad convictions. Once you walk inside any of the buildings it becomes clear that the Gothic exterior is a stage set, a false front behind which lies a drearily conventional series of spaces.