Logo: University of Southern California

Tutor Opens

Viterbi School Engineers Christen A Vibrant New Student Center and Top-Notch Research Facility

February 02, 2005 —
Trojan engineers have a new home. 
The USC Viterbi School’s new $50-million Ronald Tutor Hall  — a six-story, state-of-the-art instructional and research complex on the south side of the engineering quad — officially opened its doors Feb. 2 to faculty, staff and students after 18 months under construction.
The west side of Tutor Hall, showing the entrance to the courtyard. 
Dedication festivities drew a large crowd to the west side of the campus to watch as USC President Steven B. Sample, Dean C. L. Max Nikias, former Dean Leonard Silverman and USC Trustee Ronald N. Tutor, for whom the building is named, cut an oversized red velvet sash with an equally oversized pair of scissors and welcomed a crowd of VIPs, guests, faculty, students and alumni inside for guided tours and refreshments.
“This is the new crown jewel of our complex,” said  Nikias. “It’s a beautiful building, of course, but it’s much more than that….Tutor Hall gives us a powerful new infrastructure for invention and an inspirational home for our students.  It’s our new 21st century accelerator!”
The 103,000-square-foot building — made possible with an initial $10-million gift from Tutor, president and chief executive officer of Tutor-Saliba Corp. — creates a vibrant new courtyard and student center for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
“This is the most special feeling that I can ever recall in terms of accomplishments, of being able to be part of giving a beautiful building to a university that so richly deserves it,” said Tutor, whose construction company painstakingly built the hall. 

Sample was especially proud of the new hall.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We shape our buildings, and they shape us,'” he said, beaming with pride at the front entrance to the building.  “The architects of Tutor Hall have done an outstanding job of constructing not just a building, but an inspiring environment for our students and faculty who will shape the future of engineering at USC.
Ribbon-cutting — From left to right, former Dean Len Silverman, Ron Tutor, USC President Steven Sample and current Dean C.L. Max Nikias hold up the ceremonial scissors.

“Tutor Hall is many things," he continued.  "It is an investment in the intellectual capital of our faculty and students; it’s a bridge across academic disciplines, encouraging interdisciplinary research and teaching; it’s a gathering place for students, creating a confluence of energy and ideas; and it’s a magnet that will attract more world-class faculty, the best and brightest students from around the world, and increased research funding.”

Romanesque Façade 
For all intents and purposes, Tutor Hall definitely has that collegiate look. As it is supposed to, said Yogesh Seth, an architect with A.C. Martin Partners, designers of the building.
The hall sports a collegial Romanesque façade, blending attractive brick and banding details with concrete and sandstone walls, he said.  Large tinted glass windows on the north and south sides of the building offer occupants sweeping views of the cityscape and the Hollywood hills. 
The main entrance looks a little bit like the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles.  A soaring two-story, open-air lobby features limestone and wooden-paneled walls, with marble accents and six sparkling Louis Poulsen “artichoke” chandeliers lighting the steps to the second floor.  To the left and right of the staircase are the centralized offices for undergraduate student affairs, the engineering mentoring program, distance education, the Center for Engineering Diversity, Women in Engineering and the student tutoring program.

For all of its physical beauty, though, Tutor Hall is much more than mere bricks and mortar – it’s a hub for student life and collaborative research. 

Dean C.L. Max Nikias introduces Ronald Tutor and Tutor Hall during dedication ceremonies on Feb. 2, 2005.

“We wanted to create a vibrant environment that complemented surrounding buildings but encouraged a great deal of interaction,” Seth said.  “The open-air courtyard spills into the lobby to facilitate chance meetings, interactivity and a collaborative atmosphere for the whole engineering community.” 
Adding to that ambiance is the second-floor student lounge — the Baum Student Center — named in recognition of a $2.5-million gift from the Baum family.  The lounge “gives off the warmth of an indoor living room,” Seth said.
“This is what it’s really all about,” said Dwight C "Jim" Baum, chairman of the Viterbi School Board of Councilors, whose father, the late San Marino investment banker Dwight C. “Bill” Baum, first proposed the idea of building a student center. “Tutor Hall is a place for students to come together to relax, to socialize, to grab a bite, plug in their laptops and, most
Jim Baum
importantly, become a community.” 
The outdoor cyber café, fountain and reflecting pool create that sense of community.  Tables and chairs, shaded by umbrellas, surround a cascading fountain made of stone and large whitewashed rocks, beckoning those who are strolling toward Vermont Avenue to stop in for a while. 
“We’ve turned the café into a cyber café with data ports so that students can sit in the courtyard on a pleasant day and plug in their laptops or just mingle with other students,” said Richard Halfon, A.C. Martin Partners project manager.  “It’s not Starbucks, but it’s the same idea. We gave them a first-class place to join the USC family.”
“And it hums with the energy of a non-stop Viterbi student lifestyle,” Nikias said.
Center for Cutting-Edge Research
Tutor Hall will be the center of cutting-edge research in three burgeoning fields: biomedical technology, information technology and nanotechnology. Dramatic advances in these fields are expected to produce breakthroughs in medicine and technologies to improve human health and welfare. Because they cannot be developed in isolation, the new facility was designed to bring faculty from many disciplines under one roof, encouraging synergy and creativity.
“Tutor Hall holds incomparable research facilities,” Nikias emphasized, “centers where a shining future will emerge from revolutionary advances in information technology, biomedicine, robotics and nanotechnology.”
The nanotechnology laboratories are located in the basement.  In addition to Class 1,000 and Class 10,000 clean rooms, the laboratories offer researchers all of the scientific accouterments necessary to perform nanoscale experiments: a flat slab gravity system to minimize vibrations, wet benches, dry benches, sinks and storage areas for chemicals, and
Ron Tutor
maximum ceiling lighting.
Student instructional labs are housed on the ground floor.  The labs are equipped with the latest audiovisual equipment, cameras and high-speed Internet interfaces to beam distance education classes around the world.  
The multimedia laboratories, including the Viterbi School’s Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC), are the centerpiece of the second floor.  Here, IMSC faculty are creating tomorrow’s three-dimensional “immersidata” technologies for the Internet.  The new Viterbi Museum, showcasing Andrew Viterbi’s pioneering contributions to the birth and development of cellular communications, will also be housed on the opposite side of the lobby staircase and will be open to all who visit the building.
Spacious Upper Floors and Labs
The layout of laboratories and offices on the upper floors is spacious, according to Seth.  All of the corridors have large picture windows to bring in natural lighting.  The elevators face out from the interior “to give people a view and sense of orientation from each floor.”
Electrical engineers will congregate on the third and fourth floors, where they have high-tech electronics and data laboratories to design, develop and test electrical and electronic equipment.  The laboratories are flexible and easy to reconfigure to accommodate multiple users conducting different types of work.  Both floors also house faculty offices and small, private meeting rooms for students and instructors.

One flight up, on the fifth floor, are the biotechnology laboratories and clean rooms, where researchers are developing tiny MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) machines using manufacturing techniques grounded in the integrated circuit industry.  The labs are interspersed with faculty suites and additional meeting rooms.

Crowd Reaction 
“What do you think of it?” Nikias asked the crowd, looking up at the building.  “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Over the applause, he exclaimed, “It’s all yours!”
Nikias called the builidng “a tangible symbol of our vision for the future of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.”

Lobby staircase leading to the second floor.

During the Viterbi School’s current fundraising campaign to raise $300 million in endowment funds, donors and corporate sponsors will have opportunities to support student scholarships, student programs and services, tutoring and faculty research housed in the new building. 
Tutor Hall is also an important part of USC’s capital construction program, Sample told the audience. 
“Over the next 10-to-11 years, we’ll be building 28 new buildings at USC with over 8 million square feet of new space,” he said.  “In essence, we’re building a new campus, and it’s exciting to see these plans become a reality, especially as USC marks the 125th anniversary of its founding in 1880.”
Viterbi School staff began moving into Tutor Hall in December 2004, according to Associate Dean Sue Lewis, project manager for the Tutor Hall project. The move in will occur gradually, however; the building is not expected to be fully occupied until later in the year.   
--Diane Ainsworth 
Photos by Irene Fertik