Highlighting construction projects that will take place on campus over the next several years, Kristina Raspe, vice president for Real Estate Development and Asset Management, led a discussion about the progress and future of the USC Master Plan.
The USC Master Plan took four years to develop, culminating with its approval by the city of Los Angeles in 2009. USC had not developed a major reconstruction plan since 1960.
“We’ve grown in a thoughtful way since 1960, but we haven’t really projected our growth for the next 20 to 30 years, so this was a big deal to us,” Raspe said. “Since we’ve completed the Master Plan in 2009, we’ve been going through the city process to approve the proposed construction and there will be a final hearing before the city council in August.”
Raspe said current and future building projects include new academic facilities of the School of Cinematic Arts and the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, an instructional building for the Marshall School of Business and a shared research facility for the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Viterbi School of Engineering.
In addition to creating various new academic buildings, the Master Plan will supplement other aspects of student life such as athletics, Raspe said.
“The John McKay Center will have a lot of space underground for athlete training,” Raspe said. “The university athletic facility was surprisingly behind, despite the caliber of our athletics, and so this project will help us keep up with our peers for our recruiting standpoint.”
Raspe said The Village at USC construction plan is being treated as a separate project from the capital Master Plan, with the first phase projected to begin May 2013 and to take 27 months to complete.
The ultimate goal of the 35-acre renovation of the University Village is to create more student housing, Raspe said.
“There is not enough housing that is appropriate quality or appropriately priced for our students,” Raspe said. “For us to continue to compete for the best and brightest students, the quality of student housing will be a part of this. The creation of the projected 5,200 new students beds will have an impact on rent in the area and will significantly decrease rent.”
The ongoing renovation plans will make USC a more attractive university for current and prospective students, said Amy Rasplicka, a sophomore studying business administration.
“I’m very impressed, and the plan was very well-thought through,” Rasplicka said. “I was excited to hear about the projects on campus in general and know that it will improve student life for those who are here or want to come here.”
Though some community groups have opposed the plan, many believe the construction project will improve the community overall, said Peter Enzminger, a graduate student studying policy, planning and development.
“I do know that there are community groups opposed to the plans,” Enzminger said. “There is a sentiment that the space will only be for the on-campus student community. [South Los Angeles] lacks a lot of the shopping, retail and employment that could be found in other parts of Los Angeles.”