Hancock Memorial Building, USC

Samuel E. Lunden, consulting architect; C. Raimond Johnson. Completed in 1940. Bas reliefs by Merrell Gage.

Merrell Gage bas reliefs, photographed in 1958:

The following is from a description of the building, "Allan Hancock Foundation Building," Proceedings of the Dedicatory Exercises, The Allan Hancock Foundation for Scientific Research. The University of Southern California, January 3, 1941.

"The purpose of the building is clearly indicated in the large number of sculptured panels of zoological specimens. They begin at the west portal with thirteen small panels, which from right to left as you face the doors illustrate a series of thirteen general zoological types from the lowest to the highest forms. This same genealogical story is carried in the thirteen panels on the upper frieze of the west facade, this time using as subject material largely the thirteen biologically significant forms of animal and plant life that are most familiar to the exploratory cruises of the Velero III on the west coast of the Pacific basin.

The sculptures cast into the north and east walls of the auditorium are largely taken from the Pleistocene mammals discovered in the La Brea Pits....The one and one-quarter life-size group, each specimen of which was taken from the La Brea discoveries, was as carefully reproduced under the direction of the scientists as the sculptor, Merrell Gage was able to accomplish where the medium was concrete poured into the forms in the usual method of construction.

Most of the exposed concrete used to express the architectural treatment is poured against plyboard surfaced forms. When architectural sculpture was used, this sculpture was incorporated into the concrete walls through the use of waste molds. Where this method was impractical, the molds were used to cart the block or blocks of sculptured stone on the premises, and these precast blocks were then incorporated into the brick veneer as it progressed."

Detail of the mammoth from discoveries at the La Brea Pits:
Detail of various prehistoric mammals from the discoveries at the La Brea Pits:


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