Touring USC’s new Darla Moore School of Business

Peggy Binette of the USC media office threw a poor blogger a bone and invited me on the official media tour yesterday of the fancy new ultra-modern, artsy, green, hyper-energy-efficient Darla Moore School of Business.

I’d have posted about it Wednesday, but was tied up the rest of the day.

The tour was like old home week. I ran into, let’s see… six people I used to work with at The State, two of whom actually still work there. So it was nice to catch up with them.

The building was really nice, too, although it will look better when the trees and plants come in, and they get some artwork up on the walls. I’m assured the architects have a plan for decorating the oceans of beige, but they’re not putting anything up until all construction is finished.

And it mostly is, or so it seemed. The building is fully in use, with students coming and going and faculty moved in to offices, but it will probably be awhile before it feels lived in.

In the video above, you hear Dean Peter Brews speak, with his South African accent, about the reaction of students to the new facility. He said they were saying it is “sick… which I gather is a positive thing.” For my part, I didn’t know the kids were still saying that.

For the basics, here’s The State‘s story from the tour. The messages for the day were:

  • This is a banner day for the Moore School, putting business education at USC in an enviable position in terms of facilities and capabilities.
  • The beauty, functionality and energy-efficiency of the building.
  • Collaboration. Over and over, we heard how faculty and students from different disciplines who never saw each other in the old, vertical building are already interacting to an unprecedented extent, which is expected to lead to all sorts of good things.

And, yes, the fact that the building is where it is to act as “a gateway for the University of South Carolina leading into the Innovista district.” Beyond that, I’ll let pictures tell the story…

11 thoughts on “Touring USC’s new Darla Moore School of Business

  1. Phillip

    The USC School of Music has access to use the 500-seat hall, named the Hootie Johnson Performance Hall (after the Bank of America exec and former chairman of Augusta National Golf Club), most evenings of the year. I’m told that acousticians were brought in to help make the hall suitable for live acoustic music; I’m still a little dubious because most “multi-purpose” halls of this type where much of the purpose is for the spoken word (lectures, symposia, etc.) tend to be on the dry side acoustically. I’ll believe it when I see (hear) it, but if it’s half-decent it will fill a great need for a hall of this size (the School being limited to its own 196-seat recital hall or the gigantic Koger Center, which is still essentially has to rent to use).

    1. Rose

      Agreed! And strangely, it is smaller than the old one. Not all of the departments from the old building are moving into the new one, and they are still tight on space. The old building had the Career Center and the Business Library. The Career Center had to move into Cooper Library; the Business Library was supposed to move into the new building but was told just weeks ago that there was no room for them after all and their planned space was used for something else.

      1. Barry

        Approx 30% of the classes that were held in the old business building weren’t business related classes.

        They didn’t necessarily need a lot more space for business classes. They needed smarter space.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Despite the riff on the classic Villa Savoye, this attempt goes the way most projects that utilize pilotis seem to go – nowhere but down, visually.

    Personally, I see interesting parts that fail to gel as one. The central idea – respecting the Carolina Coliseum form (aping it even) – was what sent the project into an unrecoverable tail spin.

      1. Mark Stewart

        I think that is probably the case. But the problem was with the initial conceptualization of the project – or with the approach Darla Moore and the school wished to pursue.

        It isn’t the shock of the new that people are reacting against. It’s the poorly conceived initial vision that sent this project into its tailspin.

  3. bud

    This is probably the ugliest building in Columbia. And it sits next to what I regard the most attractive, the Carolina Coliseum. (It has become dilapidated in recent years but in it’s prime it was a masterpiece of architechual beauty). Not sure why this monstrosity was needed. I guess tuition wasn’t high enough.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      OK, so maybe it’s ugly — although I’ll say there’s no way it’s as ugly as those apartments, or condos, or whatever that have sprung up on the former CCI land, at one of the city’s gateways.

      What boggles my mind is… the Coliseum as “a masterpiece of architectural beauty?” Yikes! I understand sentimental attachment, but aesthetically, I’d put the Coliseum in the same category as the late, unlamented honeycombs.

      The worst thing about the new building, aesthetically, is that it and the Coliseum are jammed right up against each other. They are two buildings sharing the space for one. That really disturbs my sense of how to make use of a public space. I’ve thought since the project began that either they needed to pull the trigger and tear down the Coliseum, or they should have put this somewhere else.

      When you’re in it, you’re not aware of this problem (unless you’re on the south side, and I never got the chance to check the view on that side), but from the outside, it just seems wrong…

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