PODCAST: Willy Marsh, The Man Who Built USC Village

Here’s what you need to know about the recently completed USC Village:

“Massive in scale, timeless in design, USC Village is a new kind of space where living and learning come together,” according to a statement about the latest project of the University of Southern California (USC).

The project also happens to be the biggest development in the history of south Los Angeles. A $700-million investment funded entirely by USC, the development includes six buildings, totaling 1.25 million square feet of space on 15 acres. USC Village combines residential college living for 2,500 students with retail choices never before seen in the neighborhood.

The man who saw to that the project was built on time and on budget is Director of Construction Willy Marsh. He spent thousands of hours on the project. And now he’s done — almost. Among the topics explored in this lively interview with Marsh are the innovations he and his team employed to complete six buildings on time and on budget. Among them was a new building technique to finish exterior brick walls that used 2,500 pre-cast panels measuring 24 feet x 12 feet and weighing 9,000 pounds each, and were assembled off site, then delivered and installed.

The panels consisted of of brick, grout, precast window surrounds, rebar and concrete, according to Marsh. By using this method, the six buildings were “skinned” in a relatively quick 11 months. Had traditional methods been used, it’s estimated that the same process would have taken at least 1.5 years longer to complete. Throughout, the off-site fabrication helped maintain high levels of quality control.

Having the panels installed with cranes also eliminated the need for scaffolding, which saved time and reduced risks to workers’ safety.

As Marsh said in an interview with the USC News, “I’m sitting back a little more in the chair now because of these critical milestones we’ve achieved.”

Daedalus Howell

Writer-director Daedalus Howell can be reached via DaedalusHowell.com and on Twitter @daedalushowell.

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