USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Designed by Urban Design Group, Wins Grand Prize at 41st Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards

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The Grand Prize at the 2011 Los Angeles Architectural Awards has been awarded to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, a project designed by the architectural firm Urban Design Group.

Urban Design Group, the architectural firm for the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts campus, is proud to see their client’s project honored with the Grand Prize at the 2011 Los Angeles Architectural Awards. The USC Cinematic Arts collection of buildings was awarded the honor by the Los Angeles Building Council (LABC) at the 41st annual awards program held on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at the Marriott in LA live.

The awards were hosted by the LABC to recognized project teams responsible for Los Angeles’ best architecture. A jury of 14 design and building experts reviewed hundreds of submittals and selected 36 winning projects in 20 categories. The awards recognize projects that have pushed the boundaries of design, and improved the quality of life for Angelenos. Winning projects were selected based on their contribution to the Los Angeles landscape, with criteria including aesthetic design value, use of materials and contribution to the fabric of the neighborhood/community.

“It was an honor to collaborate with USC, the School of Cinematic Arts, the LucasFilm Foundation and our highly skilled design and construction team, on such a unique and rewarding project,” said Raymond R. Kahl, AIA, Principal of Urban Design Group. “Our team was encouraged by USC to adopt and transform the University’s current methods of construction. By using an integrated team approach and adapting the way building information modeling is used in all phases of design and construction, as well as in facility management, UDG was able to deliver the project well below budget and ahead of schedule. This project demanded our team’s best effort in delivering building performance and adaptability. USC’s vision has set a new standard for other educational institutions, but most importantly, it has contributed to the legacy of preparing students for the future of the cinematic arts profession.”

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts is recognized as one of the most prestigious film programs in the world and is the oldest film school in the United States. When the project was first undertaken, the existing facility was severely overcrowded and not up to current building code. UDG worked with the school and university to develop the best solution for the school’s current and long-term needs.

The first phase of the new School of Cinematic Arts consisted of two roughly mirror-imaged buildings, symmetrically placed around a central courtyard. The second phase replaced the existing sound stages with four new stages and a support building that connect through a smaller, more intimate set of courtyards to a new classroom building adjacent to the first phase structure. All physical spaces, including the new Robert Zemeckis Center for the Digital Arts, are connected by the most up-to-date technology. Thus, cinematic projects can be studied or composed simultaneously throughout the school.

The four-floor structure with one sub-level floor equals 134,000-square-foot of space. This building is the site for the administrative and much of the instructional functions of the school. It consists of offices, eight classrooms, three large-format mixing labs, 23 conference rooms, four screening rooms, a 70-seat theater, a 100-seat theater, a 200-seat theater, a 700-square-foot exhibition space and a 200-seat indoor/outdoor café. The second phase adds four buildings functioning as sound stages, specialized interactive media studios and additional academic labs, totaling 69,912 s.f.

About the LABC:
The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) is an advocacy and educational organization dedicated to serving local businesses while informing and impacting positive change at multiple layers of government. For more than 70 years, the council has been an influential link between business and government and has had a major impact on public policy related to education, housing and environmental sustainability. For more information, please visit

About UDG:
Urban Design Group (UDG) offers architectural, interior design, planning and urban design services to its worldwide clientele from studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas. A market leader in the application and advancement of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology, UDG's personnel work on a wide range of projects from hospitality and gaming to corporate and mixed-use.

In the firm's 36-year history, Urban Design Group has completed more than $8 Billion dollars in projects worldwide. The firm has received more than 80 design excellence awards and honors, 15 design competition awards and has been featured in hundreds of magazine articles, newspaper pieces and design resource books. For more information, please visit


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