John Naber ’77 sees something transformative when he stands in the Central Piazza of USC Village.
“When I was in high school, I was interested in what worked at top universities around the country,” said Naber, a swimmer who won five Olympic medals. “Somebody explained to me that so much learning takes place outside the classroom when students mingle and exchange ideas. This is the place for that.”
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of his graduation, Naber was among Trojan alumni who got their first look at USC Village during Reunion Weekend tours.
“I appreciate residential and mixed-use development,” said Jim Lewis ’97, the city manager of Pismo Beach. “Part of the unique art of development is placemaking, and I was really curious how the Village would serve the university and this South L.A. community.”
Lewis took in the hubbub of Trader Joe’s, Target and new restaurants. As he watched students play a game of pickup football on USC Village’s great lawn, he reflected on the development’s enrichment of the student experience.
“You live here, you study here, you exercise here, you grow and mature here,” Lewis said. “That’s amazing from an architectural and planning standpoint.”
“To imagine what this place was and see what’s been done here — we were really blown away,” said Sean Kearns ’97, a commercial real estate executive. “USC has created a destination here.”
Kearns and Lewis served on the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors, and reviewed presentations and briefs on the development during the planning stages.
“To see it come to life, it’s something we can all be proud of,” Kearns said.
As the setting sun cast shadows from the collegiate gothic towers of USC Village’s residential colleges, smartphone cameras snapped new memories of alumni gathered in small groups. Lewis took one look back as he headed to another event.
“I have to tell you,” he said. “It feels like it’s been here forever.”