The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Courtesy Ema Peter / Steve Lerum.

University of Southern California, Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering services for a four-story, 55,000-square-foot, academic dance center that focuses on dance education and performing arts. Named after philanthropist and founder Glorya Kaufman, the Collegiate-Gothic inspired building includes a 3,600-square-foot performance theater, five dance studios, a dance wellness center, dressing rooms, classrooms and office space.

As students move throughout the third-floor dance studios, a challenge was mitigating the vibrations between the floor of a studio and the ceiling of a space below. By using suspended concrete slabs with additional isolated lift slabs beneath each dance studio, Thornton Tomasetti designed a solution that accommodates the aerobic vibrations. The long-span floors, some reaching upward of 42 feet, required additional stiffness and increased mass compared to requirements for more sedentary occupancies. Concrete perimeter walls support concrete slabs and beams while steel framing supports a mansard roof. The performance theater includes retractable seating with catwalks supported by a tension grid system from the second-floor framing.

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Façade Materials & Systems

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Façade Materials & Systems


New technologies have transformed concrete – traditionally a heavy material used for structural elements – into a material that can be used on façades. When reinforced with glass fiber, concrete makes lightweight cladding panels that provide the textures of traditional material with a new flexibility of use. Precast concrete offers efficient panelization and range of finishes and embedment options such as brick or stone. We have experience applying these systems and can use that knowledge to help our clients select the most effective solution for their project.

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Long-Span Structures

A long-span roof or cantilevered canopy is often a defining architectural element. These large, highly articulated structures must satisfy an array of aesthetic and functional demands. They are often expected to appear weightless while supporting heavy operational equipment. Increasingly, they also support critical components of a building’s sustainability program such as solar panels and green roofs. The use of translucent cladding means the underlying structure can be seen from both the inside and outside, so it requires extra care to achieve the desired aesthetic criteria.

Our structural engineers draw upon years of design experience, construction knowledge and understanding of architectural, mechanical and other requirements of long-span structures. We apply the analytical power of our computational design tools and confer with in-house façade engineering, sustainability and construction engineering' specialists, who provide valuable multidisciplinary perspectives. This integrated approach maximizes our ability to deliver elegant, economical, sustainable and constructable long-span structures.

Specialized Structural Engineering Expertise

Vibration Analysis

Successfully engineered buildings both resist anticipated loads and maintain comfortable and functional conditions for occupants. Vibrations from walking, dancing, exercising, synchronous cheering, operating mechanical equipment, construction activities and wind gusts can generate motion that disturbs building occupants or disrupts sensitive operations. We use analysis and monitoring to identify vibration sources and determine methods to reduce or eliminate undesirable effects. We have performed vibration analyses in commercial and residential high-rise buildings, laboratories and industrial buildings, stadium grandstands, operable roofs and more.