The 1919 Parkinson Plan

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After making the decision to keep USC in the city, President George Bovard engaged John Parkinson, a prominent Los Angeles architect who previously had completed a master plan for Exposition Park, to create the university’s first campus master plan.

Parkinson’s plan envisioned a campus that was connected with Exposition Park via a series of buildings aligned along University Avenue (the street now known as Trousdale Parkway), with gates at either end. In all, 21 buildings were proposed.

A campaign to build eight to 10 of these structures marked the first major turning point in the expansion of the University Park campus which had not grown beyond its original bounds for some 40 years. Although World War I delayed implementation of the Parkinson plan, it became the blueprint for USC’s “building boom” of the 1920s.

During the administration of Rufus von KleinSmid (USC president from 1921 to 1947), USC began to acquire land to the south along University Avenue. Nine new buildings were completed by the end of his first decade in office. Nine more followed in the ensuing years, as the campus expanded to the east.

No new campus buildings were initiated from 1940 to 1949, although USC did purchase some existing structures during this time.

Map of the Parkinson plan
The Parkinson plan called for a series of buildings aligned along University Avenue, extending from 34th Street to Exposition Boulevard.

Photo of USC's student union
USC’s student union, constructed at the corner of Childs Way and University Avenue (today’s Trousdale Parkway), was one of the buildings proposed in the Parkinson master plan. The facility opened in 1928, and was rededicated in honor of Gwynn Wilson in 1971.

Photo of This aerial view of the University Park campus, 1939
This aerial view of the University Park campus, shot in 1939, looks southeast toward Exposition Park and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It shows the campus buildings aligned primarily along University Avenue, extending southward toward Exposition Park, as envisioned in the Parkinson master plan.