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USC Face-Lift to Include Grand Entry

Architecture: A $36-million renovation will feature new buildings, grassy quadrangles and covered walkways leading to ceremonial gateway.

July 07, 1997|LARRY GORDON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

USC's current main entrance, on Figueroa Street across from the Crown Plaza hotel, will be permanently closed when the new gate opens. The seven other gateways will remain open, particularly because many students live and shop north of Jefferson Boulevard and are not expected to use the ceremonial gateway much. In fact, the new entrance won't connect to any multilevel garage, only to the limited open-air parking on Childs Way.

"A ceremonial entrance like this is more important for people who are arriving on the campus to do business, or coming for the first time, or who are guests of the university," Moran said.

Across town, UCLA finished its gateway project in 1991.

Although it is hard to imagine now, the Westwood campus used to have its main entrance on its eastern side on Hilgard Avenue in an axis from Royce Hall and Powell Library. But freeway construction to the west and development of Westwood Village to the south shifted focus to the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue.

That Westwood Boulevard entrance had been marked by an undramatic chain-link fence and some ivy plants. A $3.7-million overhaul replaced that with brick walls, ceremonial planters, seating areas, a fountain, widened sidewalks and dramatic plantings of palm and ficus trees.

More imposing ideas, such as an archway or small towers, were discussed, said UCLA campus architect Charles Oakley. But UCLA officials decided to create something that would signify a switch from the shopping district to the greener campus. "The preferred sense of how we presented ourselves had to do with landscaping," Oakley said. "When you walk under the trees, you have a more gracious sense. You feel you have moved from a nice city street to quite a different environment."

Oakley had kind words for the plans of the cross-town rival. "'I think it's nice, depending on how it's carried out," he said. It will give visitors to USC a better "sense of both where you are on the campus and its connection to the public realm of the parks to the south."

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