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University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts

Urban Design Group

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  • General Contractor: Hathaway Dinwiddie
  • Vision Systems
  • General Contractor: Matt Construction
  • Giroux Glass
  • Hope's

Project Status


Year Completed

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Project Description

Hope’s® steel windows and doors were installed in the new home of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts – a four-acre complex of six buildings created after the university received sizable donations, including $175 million dollars from acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas.

When Lucas made his donation–the single largest gift in the university’s history–he specifically requested the new campus for the School of Cinematic Arts reflect the historic Mediterranean (or “Southern California Mission”) style prevalent in 1929, the year USC adopted film studies as part of its curriculum.

“The university is very pleased by the elegant look realized by the quality of the Hope’s steel windows and doors,” says Carter Moore, an architect with Urban Design Group of Dallas, who worked on all three phases of the project and served as project manager for the final phase. Prior to each construction phase, Moore says the design team and contractor traveled to Hope’s manufacturing facilities in Jamestown, NY to review how Hope’s custom handcrafts its hot-rolled steel windows and doors.

In addition to providing an elegant aesthetic, Moore says the durability of the Hope’s products enabled the team to achieve another design objective: create buildings that would last for generations.

“A high-profile project like this, which must satisfy some of the most creative minds in the world, received tremendous attention to detail,” Moore says. “There’s no doubt we will be using Hope’s again in future projects.”

Lucas, whose films include the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, donated $75 million for the construction project and $100 million for the School of Cinematic Arts endowment. An article in The Wall Street Journal referred to the project’s “crown jewels, the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg Buildings.” The newspaper also stated that Lucas is an “architectural hobbyist” and said that he and the architects “focused on quality rather than quantity when it came to detail.”

The USC School of Cinematic Arts boasts a long list of successful alums in its history. The 200,000-square-foot space in the new complex offers courses in traditional film and television, but also animation, interactive, video games and other technologies. The buildings feature high-tech classrooms alongside Tuscany-inspired belvederes, interior courtyards, tile roofs and wrought iron gates.
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