Member Highlight: Q&A with David Ruhnau

David Ruhnau
David Ruhnau

We met up with USC Associates member David Ruhnau BARCH ‘66, and asked him a few questions about his support for the university and his memories from student days.

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I grew up in Riverside, California and attended the USC School of Architecture, graduating in 1966.  I also did post-graduate work at the USC Graduate School of Urban and Regional Planning. My professional experience has been at George Bissell, FAIA (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects); Frank August & Associates in Newport Beach as a designer/draftsman; Ernest J. Kump Associates in Palo Alto as a project designer; and as CEO of Ruhnau Clarke Architects with offices in Carlsbad and Riverside. My wife and I are longtime residents of Rancho Santa Fe. Our son Morgan, his wife Danielle and their son (our grandson) Ford live in Laguna Beach. Ford’s fifth grade teacher is also a USC alum, and we’re hoping he will attend USC and major in architecture or some other field!

What inspired you to give?

I attended the Half Century Trojans Hall of Fame Awards luncheon in November 2019, in which David C. Martin was one of the recipients. David was one of my college roommates. This got me thinking about providing support to USC, and I subsequently joined the USC Associates.

What impact did you want your gift to make?

Being an architect has enabled me to have a successful career and wonderful life. I’ve been able to contribute to the greater community and the built environment. I hope my gift will allow other students to pursue opportunities at USC.

What led you to join the USC Associates?

My father, Herman Ruhnau, FAIA was president of the USC Architecture Guild in the early 1960s, and I remember him mentioning that if I ever was looking for a great group to be involved with at USC, I should join the Associates. One interesting note — looking back, USC alums Frank Gehry BARCH ’54, FAIA and the late George Bissel BARCH ’53, FAIA, received their fellowships at the same time as my father in 1974.

What is your favorite USC memory?

While attending the USC School of Architecture, I had the following architecture student roommates, David C. Martin BARCH ’66, FAIA; Boris Dramov BARCH ’66, MS ’72, FAIA; and Ken Johnson. We had a good time together sharing an old Victorian house and had many philosophical discussions. Also, I used to visit the film school that was then adjacent to the School of Architecture. In later years, while looking through my yearbook, I saw that George Lucas ’66 was one of the students who graduated the same year as me!

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