University of Southern California

Dornsife College Student Commons

Los Angeles, California

The USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the academic heart of USC, home to more than 10,000 undergraduate students and over 1000 post-graduates seeking doctoral degrees. While the College has sufficient academic space, it lacks a “home” for students and faculty to come together both formally and informally. As part of our ongoing relationship with USC, we conducted a study of the feasibility of converting the university’s long antiquated Physical Education building into a new commons. One of the most notable design features is the concept of transforming the existing indoor pool into a soaring double-height central lounge/study space around which other functions are located. The design also includes the conversion of an existing inner courtyard into an event space, enclosing it with a transparent roof, allowing daylight to fill the space much as it does today. Finally, the concept captures unused rooftop space, adding a large conference room and terrace that would provide users with views to the campus.

Project Data

81,1000 sf existing; 104,690 sf proposed

Program & Highlights

Double-height commons space
Courtyard/event space
Multipurpose athletic spaces
Office suites for student services
Rooftop conference space & terrace
Physical Education department


Structural Engineer: Saiful/Bouquet, Inc.
MEP: IBE Consulting Engineers

Existing pool
Existing courtyard