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Aligning with the strategic goal of recruiting world class faculty, staff and students the Provost established a priority to create new, flexible, interactive and interdisciplinary social sciences space for research and graduate studies. The Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall fosters and nurtures collaboration among interdisciplinary research groups from the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC Marshall School of Business, USC Gould School of Law, USC School of Policy, Planning and Development and other social sciences professional schools.
Current thinking in educational and research environments tells us that creating environments which foster collaboration leads to more highly effective research environments. Learning and research is becoming more and more project-based and often transient in nature requiring a high degree of flexibility to accommodate the widest possible range of scenarios that may need to be supported. The ability to adapt and change over time is central to making the facility function at the highest level.
When design began on the project there were no tenants for the building which was envisioned as a tool to strengthen USC’s reputation as a prominent research institution and to attract research talent to the campus. The program was based solely on the vision of USC to accomplish these goals rather than to accommodate known tenants, and to that end the design team was challenged to imagine what sort of facility would place USC at the cutting edge of collaborative, interdisciplinary research institutions.
In order to maximize the useful life of the facility, Dauterive Hall is designed to accommodate the needs of various institutes that may turn over every three to five years. Flexibility is facilitated by providing workspaces of different sizes and characters, as well as by design elements such as demountable wall partitions and flexible technology.
Dauterive Hall consists of five stories above grade and one floor below grade with a tower that reaches a maximum height of 115′-0″. The plan is organized in a U-shape around an interior atrium and an exterior. The building steps back as the building rises allowing sunlight into the adjacent plaza, and the U-shaped floor plan increases the perimeter of the building in order to maximize the amount of windows, and available natural light in the interior. The step-backs provide exterior terraces at each level with views of the courtyard.
The interior architecture of the building diverges from the mandated Italian Romanesque exterior and is characterized by open layouts and modern finishes. The interior layout emphasizes interdisciplinary interaction and flexibility. A full-height atrium is located at the center of the building with public gathering 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.
The open atrium allows for strong visual connections from one floor to another. At the base of the atrium, the ground floor and lower level are linked by a 20-foot-wide central stair that is populated with seat-height platforms that can function as small gathering spaces or turn the stair into an amphitheater. The atrium is illuminated by natural light via skylights and windows facing the adjacent courtyard making the circulation and gathering spaces around the atrium inviting areas for meetings and discussions.