According to Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the Viterbi School ofEngineering, the department will now be known as the Sonny AstaniDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Astani, whoearned his degree at USC two years after arriving in the US fromhis native Iran, says that his hope is that the gift "will allow anew generation of civil and environmental engineers to rise to theincreasingly complex challenges created by the urbanization of LosAngeles and the changes to the global environment we are nowfacing."

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Astani is the chairman of Astani Enterprises, a Beverly Hillsbased development firm that owns or operates approximately 4,000apartment units throughout Southern California and is currentlydeveloping approximately 2,000 units of condominiums and lofts inDowntown Los Angeles with a total value in excess of $1 billion.These include five iconic residential towers and two loftbuildings: the Concerto, a mixed-use twin 32-story towers with27,000 sf of shops, restaurant and spa; the 38-story Grand; andVero at 1234 Wilshire Blvd.

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Last year, Astani Enterprises donated $1.5 to the Skid RowHousing Trust. The $1.5 million completed funding for a downtownapartment complex, Abbey Apartments, that will house 115 of LosAngeles' mentally ill homeless when it opens in next year.

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The Astani donation is the seventh multimillion-dollar donationfrom a USC engineering alumnus in the last six years, followingearlier gifts by Andrew J. Viterbi, naming the school, and by sixothers naming departments , centers and institutes. USC PresidentSteven B. Sample comments that the gift underscores how Astani"understands the crucial role civil and environmental engineersmust play as more and more people live in cities.

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