Emergent Geology in Crocker Plaza

Nina Weithorn, MLA +3, '24


Fifteen million years ago the Los Angeles basin was underwater. As the mountain ranges surrounding the area that is now Los Angeles shifted, this seismic activity exerted enough pressure on the landscape that rocks that were once on the ocean floor were pushed to the surface. This project imagines the recreation of these prehistoric geologic formations in USC’s Crocker Plaza through the use of soil 3D printing technology. Utilizing a mixture of native soil, sand, aggregate, and Portland cement, large boulders are constructed (printed) on site and appear to emerge from the ground below. The plaza “boulders” are a representation of the rocks that once rose from the ocean. A series of platforms and infiltration basins surrounding these rock formations provide informal seating and facilitate rainwater capture, respectively. California native Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and compatible native understory species are densely planted around the boulders to provide habitat and increase biodiversity on USC’s campus.