The new Global Headquarters of the USC Shoah Foundation is a conduit to the Institute’s growing collection of over 55,000 video testimonies by witnesses of genocide and supports the nearly 100-person staff that helps realize the organization’s global mission. Designed with deep emotional and cultural sensitivity, the new 10,000sqft space, which occupies the entire top floor of the existing Leavey Library at the University of Southern California, is an immersive, didactic environment that anticipates the needs of the USC Shoah Foundation. The ceiling throughout is integral to the functionality and spatial organization of the space. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by a dimly-lit public exhibition space with various interactive walls and screens. A custom powder-coated aluminum mesh in the ceiling diffuses up-lighting while integrating and hiding several systems. The panels echo the back-lit mesh of the shapely information pillars while their porosity create the illusion of greater ceiling clearance.
In the open plan work areas, circulation space is distinguished from workstations with the use of a faceted dropped ceiling datum. A folded, diagrid acoustic ceiling system made of recycled materials hides the services and integrates lighting above desks while dampening sound for concentrated study and work. The change in floor-to-ceiling height between the circulation space and workstations is a subtle queue that helps alleviate the emotional tension of scholars and staff when they step away from their desks.
The same recycled acoustic material was also used to create custom wall and ceiling coverings in meeting and VR interview rooms. Re-routed and cut in custom patterns and layers, they manage sound while producing a consistent material language across the Institute.
Ceilings embodied an opportunity to shape and enhance every space at the USC Shoah Foundation. They created ambiance and effectively hid/exposed systems while performing functionally elevating the overall design.