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George Lucas says he’s no architect, but a “hobbyist”

March 31, 2009

George Lucas stepped in big time to help his alma mater, giving $175 million through his Lucasfilm Foundation to the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California. Read about it in this Reuters news story.

It wasn’t the first time he’d stepped in to help, and the George Lucas Building at SCA dedicated on Sunday wasn’t the first one at the school named for the filmmaker. When he first pitched coin at the school, Lucas was a moviemaker on the rise but had not yet gained the financial wherewithal that would come with the release months later of “Star Wars.”

The new buildings are shown here, in a photo provided by USC.


He said he doesn’t think well of the looks of the first Lucas building, which still stands near the new George Lucas Building but will be razed to make way for a park that student filmmakers will use for outdoor scenes.

“Back then, it was kind of an emergency,” Lucas said in an interview with Reuters after he led a tour of the new George Lucas and the Steven Spielberg buildings at SCA. “They had to get a building built in order to preserve the land. Land is everything on a university campus.

“I gave the money, but because I was in the middle of making ‘Star Wars,’ I couldn’t get too involved. I was 32. I told them to do something, you know, California-ish. My feeling is that it was too much San Fernando Valley Savings and Loan-ish, so I never really was that happy with that building.”

The new Spielberg and Lucas buildings, which opened in January, along with an Animation & Digital Arts Building soon to be constructed, are designed to look like Hollywood studios and Bel Air mansions looked in 1929 when the SCA was opened by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the same group that presents the Academy Awards.

Lucas hired the architects, Urban Design Group, and they studied the work of George Washington Smith, an architect who helped form the 1920s “California Style.” The new buildings are also close in appearance to the original Paramount Studios in Hollywood and the former estate of early film star and producer Harold Lloyd.

“I laid out the general plan of how I thought the buildings should be and how they should be situated and the style they should be done in and (the architects) took it from there. They did a brilliant job,” said Lucas.

Lucas was asked if he considered himself an architect.

“No. I’m a hobbyist,” said Lucas, who is 64. ”I built a bunch of buildings for my company. I’ve been around those type of things all my life. When I have free time, that’s what I like to do. It’s fun working with the architects.”

But Lucas made it clear he leaves the work to architects once he sets the stage.

“I sort of do the high-end designing part,” he said.


From L to R: Director Steven Spielberg, Dean of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts Elizabeth Daley, USC President Dr. Steven Sample and director George Lucas pose at the USC School of Cinematic Arts open house in Los Angeles March 29, 2009 (Photo by Steve Cohn/USC)


I am a film studies student at a London’s 6th form in Chalk Farm, I am doing an essay on Mr Lucas and I was wondering if you could send me some information about his signature style. Thank you.


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