USC's Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library

The Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library (in memory of Helen Elizabeth Topping, 1910-1989, wife of fomer USC president Norman Topping) is located in the lower level of Ray and Nadine Watt Hall, designed by Killingsworth, Brady, and Associates in 1973. The original building is a heavy, exposed concrete pavilion. In 1990 the library was expanded to include an atrium reading room with an exterior patio. Of special note are the square and triangular compositional elements. Completed by Ellerbe Becket and Graeme Morland, a distinguished School of Architecture professor at USC, the library features the Alson Clark main Reading Room, the Harry and Della MacDonald Periodicals Library, the John Stauffer Atrium, and the Torrey H. Webb Rare Books Reading Room. The Library now houses over 75,000 volumes dedicated to the studies of art history and architecture, and a notable collection of rare titles. The Standish K. Penton Slide Collection comprises over 300,000 slides, including a small collection of original fin-de-si縦le lantern slides. Recently the library has begun acquiring architectural drawings, public art resources, and artists' books. The physical area of the AFA Library is a lovely sunlit space for specialized research and general study. It has space for graduate students, a variety of workstations for electronically based research, and some flat bed scanners.

Library reading room before the expansion, 1980s

Helen Elizabeth Topping

General floor plan, 1990

Drawings of the library for the renovation, late 1980s. Graeme M. Morland, USC School of Architecture Professor of Design, consultant:

Photographs of the library circa 2000:


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