September 5, 2014

The University of Southern California (USC) recently dedicated the new Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall, designed by HKS Architects, Inc. in Los Angeles. A crowd of approximately 500 people, including the Trojan Marching Band, were present – as well as the team members from the HKS Los Angeles office. The building’s donor and namesake, Dr. Verna Dauterive, welcomed the crowd and personally thanked everyone who contributed to the project. 

“I am deeply humbled and very excited about the building, but I am even more excited about what will happen inside — gifted bright stars working together to change the world in wonderful ways that will create brighter futures for all societies,” Dr. Dauterive said at the ceremony. 

The 6-level, 110,000-square-foot facility is named in honor of the $30 million gift from Dr. Dauterive and her late husband, Peter W. Dauterive, a 1949 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business. The state-of-the-art facility is the university’s first interdisciplinary social sciences building, and will house programs and researchers from across the university. 

Four centers already have moved into Dauterive Hall: The USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, which promotes health and value in healthcare 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 USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett. “The building is not reserved for researchers of 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 6-story atrium, serving as the centerpiece of the collaborative environment. 

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 often is ambiguous in nature, requiring a high degree of flexibility to accommodate the widest range possible of scenarios that may need to be supported over time. 

The interior architecture features open plans and modern finishes, contrasting with the highly articulated exterior designed in the collegiate gothic vocabulary.  The atrium is located at the center of the building, with public gathering spaces and circulation located around it on each floor. Entrances to research, institute, administrative and classroom spaces are on this public core, with the objective of drawing staff from their offices into these common spaces to encourage discussion and intermingling among researchers of different backgrounds. 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-foot-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-square-foot skylight, illuminating a 60-foot suspended sculpture entitled “Ascending Thoughts.” 

A ground-floor café provides sustenance for researchers and students. Upper-level exterior terraces serve 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 already has become a favorite 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 HKS Design Director Thom Greving. 

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. 

HKS Architects, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top five architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. HKS is consistently voted one of the Best Places to Work by the Los Angeles Business Journal. They are currently working with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of Southern California, the County of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley Family Support Center, CalOptima and Westfield. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects in more than 1,498 cities located in 84 countries. The firm operates from 27 offices worldwide. 

For more information, contact Mandy Flynn at

Posted in Education, Research
Tagged Michael Kim, Thom Greving, USC Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall, USGBC LEED Silver