Front of Building


Los Angeles, CA


University of Southern California

Design Architect


Project Size

55,000 SF


USC Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center Groundbreaking

​A groundbreaking ceremony for the $43 million, 55,000-square-foot Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center on the University of Southern California campus was held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 23. The site for the new three-story red brick home for the new USC Kaufman School of Dance is on West Thirty-fourth Street at Watt Way, just east of Jefferson Boulevard.

Speaking at the groundbreaking were dance patron Glorya Kaufman, USC President C. L. Max Nikias, Dean of USC Kaufman Robert Cutietta and Vice Dean and Director of USC Kaufman Jodie Gates. There was a short dance performance choreographed by Gates. Professional dancers were accompanied by student musicians from the USC Thornton School of Music.

This world-class facility, to be built by MATT Construction, will house a studio performance space, five medium and small dance studios, a dance wellness center, dressing rooms, space for future classrooms and offices for faculty and administrators. There will be a large collaborative space for dance majors to use on the third floor.

The Collegiate Gothic inspired building is scheduled to be completed in time to welcome the first cohort of students at USC Kaufman in 2015.

“Glorya Kaufman stands among our world’s greatest philanthropists and most ardent champions of dance,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “With her historic gift, she also distinguished herself as a true visionary for the future of dance education. At USC, we look forward to watching USC Kaufman develop into one of the world’s premier schools for dance education, as well as our university’s sixth exceptionally vibrant arts school.”

“A world class school needs a world class building. Thanks to the generosity of Glorya Kaufman, we will have both,” said Dean Cutietta. “By locating the building so close to the university’s other artistic performing arts schools, we have created an area of campus dedicated to performance. I can’t wait to welcome our first students to this magnificent building in 2015.”

“This building will become the home for a transformative curriculum that will inspire a new generation of dancers and choreographers,” said Gates. “The groundbreaking marks the beginning of a new educational model for USC Kaufman that we call ‘The New Movement.'”

“I am thrilled to see construction begin on the Kaufman School,” said Kaufman.  “It is my hope that dance students will consider this building a second home, a place where they feel comfortable to express themselves and explore new ways to enhance the art of dance in the 21st century.”

The building’s architect is William Murray, AIA, principal at Pfeiffer Partners Architects, Inc. of Los Angeles. This is the firm’s first building on the USC campus.  Murray said the building will be a key transitional structure from the main campus to the new University Village being developed across Jefferson Boulevard. “Large Gothic arched openings will bring generous amounts of natural light into the spaces as well as create monumental openings for entries into the building,” said Murray. A grand stair serves a multi-story lobby at the main entrance, he said, and the brick skin of the building will be Roman brick with large expanses of a diamond shaped pattern. The sloped roofs of the building will be Italian tile. Window surrounds of precast concrete with detailed articulation “will give the building balance and richness,” he said.

In November 2012, visionary Los Angeles philanthropist Glorya Kaufman made the transformational gift to establish the dance school at USC that now bears her name. Her gift created an endowment to support the school’s programs in contemporary and classical dance, recruit world-renowned faculty and provide student scholarships, as well as fund construction of the instructional building.

The USC Kaufman School of Dance is the first school to be established through an endowment at USC in nearly 40 years. It joins USC five preeminent arts schools – in architecture, cinematic arts, dramatic arts, music and fine arts and design.

The gift to name the school was Kaufman’s largest gift to dance to date. Her past support includes gifts of $20 million to Dance at The Music Center in Los Angeles, $6 million to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and $3.5 million to The Juilliard School, among others.

Kaufman made the decision not to discuss the amount of her USC gift, saying she did not want people to focus on a number. “I want them to think about what my gift will do the students who will have wonderful opportunities because of it,” she said at the time.

USC Kaufman combines a conservatory environment with the academic rigor of a major private research institution as it prepares the dance leaders of the future. Its hallmark is the innovation of a new movement model to be expressed in new media, scholarship, studio practice and choreography. The BFA program offers students a robust performance repertory and strategic career skills, as well as opportunities for artistic development, interdisciplinary study and collaboration with world-renowned artists in Los Angeles.

Cutietta, dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, accepted a second deanship to head USC Kaufman. In April 2013, Jodie Gates, an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and educator, was named vice dean and director of the school. Gates, a former principal ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet, Frankfort Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia and other leading companies, previously was a professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine, and has been honored by the American Association of University Women for her contributions to the field.

The gift from Glorya Kaufman represents significant support for The Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multi-year effort to secure $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand the university’s positive impact on the community and world.

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