“The Doheny Library is simply stunning. I am certain that it has not been in such good shape since its original opening.”
Spectacularly Safe

Doheny Library shines after a two-year earthquake retrofit and deep-cleaning that conservationists call an “exemplary preservation project.”

ONE OF USC'S GREAT architectural treasures, the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library, reopened this fall after nearly two years of intricate structural work costing more than $17 million.
“The Doheny Library is simply stunning,” says Jerry Campbell, dean of university libraries. “I am certain that it has not been in such good shape since its original opening.”
When the library’s doors were closed in late 1999 for a seismic retrofit, USC officials took the opportunity to also install fire sprinklers and give the building an intensive cleaning. For the first time in the Doheny’s 69-year history, its exterior was thoroughly bathed. Portions of the library’s 168,000-square-foot interior were also scrubbed and refurbished. A big challenge was removing tobacco and soot stains left after years of cigarette smoking in the library. Workers used cotton swabs and distilled water to wash much of the delicate surfaces and ceilings, including gold leaf details.
The bulk of the project, however, was less aesthetic than structural. For the earthquake upgrades, 17 walls had to be dismantled to make way for stronger concrete shear walls. Delicately crafted veneers – from wood paneling to painted details – had to be removed, then meticulously put back in place. Coffered ceilings with decorative moldings and large plaster flowers were taken down in fragments, then replaced like the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.
“It was a marvelous feat of engineering and design,” says Campbell. “Remarkably, these tremendous life-saving changes are invisible.”

BUT NOT SO INVISIBLE as to escape the admiring scrutiny of architectural conservationists. The Los Angeles Conservancy recognized the Doheny upgrade as one of seven “exemplary preservation projects” at its 20th annual Preservation Awards.
“The project has resulted in a reawakening of Doheny Library’s stature, beauty and usefulness as a central campus resource, exemplifying USC’s ongoing commitment to stay in the heart of Los Angeles and reinvest in its historic campus architecture,” says conservancy spokesman Ken Bernstein.
Designed by architect Samuel Lunden, the library was erected in 1932 with a $1 million gift from Edward and Estelle Doheny, given in memory of their son, Edward L. Doheny Jr., who died in 1929.

– Gilien Silsby


From the Ashes

Students attending the September 24 teach-in.
IN THE WAKE OF the September 11 terrorist attacks, USC has unveiled a Political Violence Initiative, comprising faculty-led seminars, workshops, lectures, teach-ins and courses geared for students as well as alumni and the neighboring community. The initiative was announced at a September 24 teach-in held on the University Park campus.
“Students need a place to come and discuss the latest developments and share knowledge,” said Joseph Aoun, dean of USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, speaking to a crowd of 600 participants. “Teach-ins at USC will not be a one- or two-time event. They will be here for a long time.” Plans also call for presenting lectures to USC alumni organizations.
“Taking a multidisciplinary approach, we will offer background, analysis and discussion of the psychological, economic, political, legal, historical and sociological aspects of political violence,” Aoun says.
Days earlier, USC President Steven B. Sample had reached out to the university’s Muslim neighbors when he attended a meeting at the Omar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque adjacent to campus.
“As a community comprising numerous cultural, ethnic and religious groups, the university itself is a model for diversity,” says Aoun. “We can show the world that even from the ashes of loss and devastation, tolerance can take root and flourish.”

Teach-in kicks off USC’s Political Violence Initiative aimed at exploring the roots and repercussions of political violence.


Developing Great Quad

Workers have completed a $4.2 million project to reconfigure the area between Leavey Library and the Doheny Memorial Library, including a short stretch of Hoover Boulevard left over from the old off-campus street grid. What had been oddly shaped patches of grass bisected by roadways and surface parking is now 2.2 acres of landscaped green space, anchored by a fountain with reflecting pool and framed by walkways. “This is a stunningly beautiful project that transforms this portion of campus,” says Leavey Library director Charlotte Crockett. “At the same time, it provides for more usable space for student interaction in the very popular area in front of Leavey.” Dubbed McCarthy Quad for the family of USC trustee Kathleen Leavey McCarthy, the project was designed by landscape architects Fong, Hart & Schneider. McCarthy is chairperson of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.



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Neuromancipation
If you thought the embryonic stem cell debate was hairy, wait till the neurochip debate begins. Fasten your seatbelts, warns USC neuropharmacologist Roberta Brinton, as we enter the brave new world of human flesh grown on chips. (William Gibson wasn’t so far off.) In a Boston Globe article, Brinton described her lab’s efforts to develop silicon chips that can communicate with and even stand in for damaged brain and nerve cells. The same technology, she says, might go beyond repairing lost function and lead to superhuman bionics and even “mind control.”
As the boundaries between man and machine erode, scientists like Brinton warn of difficult ethical territory ahead. It’s time, says Brinton, to begin the public debate on these possibilities.
Painting Illustration by Michael Klein / Face illustration by A.J. Garces / McCarthy Quad rendering by Mikio Kimoto /Photo by Irene Fertik