The 1961 Master Plan

The information on this microsite (http://www.usc.edu/community/upcmasterplan) reflects archival data last updated in 2008. For the most accurate current information on the University Village Specific Plan, please visit village.usc.edu.

In 1961, Norman H. Topping (USC president from 1958 to 1970) announced a far-reaching campaign that would transform the university far into the future — the Master Plan for Enterprise and Excellence in Education. Hand-in-hand with this drive and its ambitious agenda of fiscal and programmatic expansion, university administrators considered the need for corresponding physical enhancement.

Once again, USC pondered a possible move to another site and once again, the decision was made to honor the intent of USC’s founders by providing the City of Los Angeles with a metropolitan center of higher education.

Topping enlisted architects William L. Pereira and Associates to develop a campus master plan whose goals ranged from fostering links with the surrounding community to creating a pedestrian campus organized around a series of academic quads.

Since 1957, USC had been cooperating with the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of the City of Los Angeles in connection with the Hoover Redevelopment Project. As the urban renewal effort and the master plan moved forward, the University Park campus grew from 95 to 150 acres and extended its boundaries to Vermont Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard as first suggested in the 1946 master plan. Most of the people who were displaced by the project accepted it. Others, however, blamed the university for aligning itself with the CRA, causing residual resentment in the community for years to come.

However, a 1965 Los Angeles Times article pointed out: “Although the university could condemn land for expansion, it has favored the urban renewal process because of the aid forthcoming for displaced residents and the benefits the neighborhood would receive through redevelopment.” Among the community improvements made during this time were Hebrew Union College, a Hilton Hotel (today’s Radisson), the University Village shopping center (opened in 1976) and other commercial and residential projects.

Over its 25-year lifespan (1961 to 1986), the Pereira master plan underwent several revisions to accommodate USC’s growing student population and changing academic needs. The plan was updated in 1966, for example, to refine concepts ranging from housing and more efficient use of existing buildings to circulation and service access. In 1976, the Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive Landscape Master Plan. An additional update was made to create a central campus plaza in 1983, in preparation for the 1984 Olympics.

Artist's depiction of 1961 master plan map
The campus land use plan developed by William L. Pereira and Associates for the master plan effort in 1961 called for the acquisition of 60 acres of land from the surrounding community. In this artist’s depiction of the expanded campus, a reddish tint identifies existing buildings; lighter buildings are those that were planned.

Photo of University Village shopping center
Opened on the site of a former meat packing plant on Jefferson Boulevard, the University Village shopping center debuted in fall 1976.

Photo of Hahn Central Plaza
University Park campus beautification took a major step forward as the intersection of Trousdale Parkway and Childs Way was transformed into Hahn Central Plaza in preparation for the 1984 Olympics.