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Welsh Humanities Building Reflection Pool, USC: 1970s-2000s   7 comments

Posted at 10:20 pm in historic,landmark

I was on campus the other day, and noticed the final passing of a landmark that's been gradually disappearing since the 1970s.

The Welsh Humanities Building is just past the Pickens Street footbridge on the way to Capstone. It was built in the early 1970s, and when it was first completed, there was a reflection pool in front of it. In that pool were vaguely birdlike abstract sculptures which bobbed up and down as water flowed over them. As a kid, it reminded me of those toy drinking birds that keep dipping into a glass of water, and I always enjoyed watching them.

The motion of the birds was the first thing to go. I don't know if the orignal artist was no longer available to keep them up, but at some point, they apparently broke, and facilities people turned off the water running over them. After the birds sat motionless for a number of years, they were finally totally removed from the pool. The pool itself continued to be maintained at least into the 80s if memory serves.

That changed when the pool was permanently drained, and chairs and tables for students using the mini restaurant on the ground floor of the Welsh building were put in. This continued for a while, then the old pool itself was filled in level to the rest of the surrounding plaza.

Then finally since the last time I was in the area, probably 2003, a whole new building has been built on the plaza, including most of what was the pool. The new building appears to be a wi-fi coffee bar combined with a "light meals" type of lunch counter. On the whole I think I'd prefer the birds.

Written by ted on August 27th, 2008

7 Responses to 'Welsh Humanities Building Reflection Pool, USC: 1970s-2000s'

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  1. I always thought the birds were cool, but they got a lot of negative publicity because they were "modern art," and even worse -- expensive. Two things Columbians traditionally do not like.

    FirstDennis

    28 Aug 08 at 6:46 am

  2. This is really cool. I don't think I ever saw the pool. As a student there at the end of 90s and a little of the 00's I can only recall the area with tables and chairs. I spent a lot of time in that area finishing up assignments before class. I think it was around 05 they put that cafe in there.

    MR Bill

    28 Aug 08 at 3:38 pm

  3. I was a student at USC in the mid-90s and I think the pool was drained but the birds were still there. I worked there after graduating and my office window was on the first floor of the Humanities building overlooking the patio area. When I left in 2006, it was just being filled in and they were beginning to build the cafe. Up until that point whenever it would rain and the old reflection pool filled up, students would take their shoes off and wade around in it.

    nicole

    29 Aug 08 at 12:02 pm

  4. When I was there in the late 70s-early 80s the birds were called "the vomiting ducks."

    Tom

    30 Aug 08 at 6:58 pm

  5. I was there from 85-89 as an undergrad, and then worked at USC from 90-96. The bird thing was in the reflecting pond at least until 1988, and I know there was water in it until 1987ish. But the sculpture didn't move unless you actually made it move, manually. My boyfriend at the time waded into the pond about 1am and put a foil-wrapped skeleton wearing a space helmet onto the statue, along with a sign that said something like "take me to your leader." Yes, it was as lame as it sounds, prank-wise.

    I think the pond was drained about 1990ish.

    Barbara

    30 Nov 09 at 2:16 am

  6. Oops, I mean, I think the pond was drained about 1989-90, not 1987.

    Barbara

    30 Nov 09 at 2:17 am

  7. I was there from 94-98, and I remember the pool being there for the first year or two I was there.

    Dave

    30 Nov 09 at 9:34 am

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