The Washington Post

USC buys building to house D.C. campus

University is latest to establish an eastern hub with downtown address


The University of Southern California is enlarging its operations in Washington with the acquisitio­n of a 60,000-square-foot building near Dupont Circle that will be home to a new D.C. campus.

The $49.4 million purchase of the property at 1771 N St. NW, announced Wednesday, enables the private university in Los Angeles to establish an eastern hub for teaching, research, lobbying, recruiting, alumni networking and community outreach. The deal underscore­s that higher education institutio­ns based elsewhere often find it desirable to establish a prominent Washington address.

“So many of our students are deeply interested in the workings of our democracy,” said USC President Carol Folt. “We wanted a vibrant East Coast center. We said this is the place for us to be.”

Many universiti­es have made a similar calculatio­n, planting their flags and logos in the corridors of downtown, near embassies, federal agencies, the White House and Capitol Hill.

New York University and Texas A&M University both operate on L Street in Northwest Washington. Arizona State University runs a center at 18th and I streets, while the University of California’s D.C. outpost is on Rhode Island Avenue near Scott Circle.

Johns Hopkins University is finishing a renovation of a major building, 555 Pennsylvan­ia Ave. NW, that it recently purchased. The building was once home to the Newseum and will soon be the location of the university’s School of Advanced Internatio­nal Studies and other D.C. academic enterprise­s. The Hopkins building dwarfs many of the others, with about 400,000 square feet in a prime location between the Capitol and the White House. It is expected to open in time for the fall semester.

“Expanding our presence in the nation’s capital doubles down on making our data-driven re

search capability across all discipline­s more readily available to national and global decisionma­kers, in service of our commitment to democracy and human advancemen­t,” Lainie Rutkow, vice provost for interdisci­plinary initiative­s at Hopkins, said in a statement.

Washington “is a very hot market for colleges and universiti­es,” said Andrew Flagel, president and chief executive of the Consortium of Universiti­es of the Washington Metropolit­an Area. A D.C. address gives schools visibility in an affluent and highly educated region as well as proximity to power. “I’m in front of the people who do earmarks,” Flagel said, referring to special provisions in federal spending bills. “I’m in front of the people who do research grants.”

Several prominent schools call Washington home, including American, Catholic, Gallaudet, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard and Trinity Washington universiti­es, as well as the University of the District of Columbia. In nearby suburbs are, among others, the University of Maryland at College Park and George Mason University in Northern Virginia.

USC, with about 49,000 students, has long had offices in Washington, with hundreds of students, faculty members and others flying back and forth every The University of Southern California acquired this building near Dupont Circle for $49.4 million. year from Los Angeles. But the new D.C. campus, Folt said, will take the presence to another level, perhaps tripling or quadruplin­g the transconti­nental traffic for the school’s community, known as the Trojans. “We got a very excellent place that suits our needs for a very reasonable price,” she said.

The seven-story building on N Street, with a curved glass curtain in front, was purchased from Stream Realty Partners of Dallas, according to USC officials. For many years the site was home to the National Associatio­n of Broadcaste­rs.

Fred Ryan, publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post, is on the USC Board of Trustees.

Washington, like many cities, has struggled to bring its downtown back to life after the massive office closures that occurred in 2020 during the coronaviru­s pandemic. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said in a statement that she hopes the USC campus will help catalyze the northern part of the business district. “We cannot wait to welcome Trojans to the nation’s capital as together we fight on for D.C.’S comeback,” Bowser said.

USC said it plans to start using the building almost immediatel­y. The facility will support research and teaching in cybersecur­ity, computer science, journalism, public policy, political science, health sciences and other fields. “There will be hundreds of students, staff, faculty and alumni streaming in and out of the Capital Campus year-round in ways that our previous space did not allow,” USC officials said in a statement. “In addition, we hope to establish collaborat­ive programmin­g with other universiti­es in the area.”

 ?? Nick Anderson/the WASHINGTON POST ??
Nick Anderson/the WASHINGTON POST

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