Law School plans renovations

By Tim Michaels

The Law School will undergo some changes beginning next fall intended to bring it up-to-date with the modern necessities of a legal education. The new plans include renovating the classroom wing, refurbishing the lower level concourse with more modern facilities, converting the auditorium so that it may be used as a classroom, updating technology in the classrooms, and, eventually, moving student services into the D’Angelo Library tower. The renovations will be among the most significant changes to the Law School since it was moved to the Laird Bell Quadrangle in 1959.

“We are about to invest money in reclaiming parts of our facilities that are underutilized and that will help make us a place that attracts the best students and faculty,” said Saul Levmore, dean of the Law School. “We will always be a place that invests more in human capital than in physical amenities, but the modern law school should be one that students wish to gravitate towards and in which they extend their education throughout the day.”

The company chosen to create the design for the new renovations is OWP&P, whose work on campus includes the Kane Center at the Law School as well as components of the Ratner Athletics Center, currently under construction. Once the designs are completed, they will be sold to the highest bidder, and a construction firm will be selected to start building.

The renovation plans were approved in January and are set to begin as soon as possible, though it is not certain when the larger project will be completed. Work on the auditorium will begin during the 2003-2004 school year and the construction firm will be selected in the fall of 2004, said Meredith Mack, associate vice president of facilities services.

Many students are happy to hear that renovation plans are in progress, calling them long overdue and necessary in order for the school to maintain its prestige as one of the nation’s top law schools.

“Although the facilities are not that bad, in comparison with some of its peers, whose tuition is cheaper and academic reputation much less prestigious, the school is in dire need of modern improvements,” said Mustfa Hersi, a first-year student at the Law School.

Fellow first-year student Goldburn Maynard echoed Hersi’s sentiments about the need to revitalize the school’s building. “It’s about time that the University of Chicago renovated the Law School, seeing as how many of the school’s competitors, like Yale, have also been undergoing renovations to update facilities,” he said.

The current state of facilities at the Law School may even have deterred potential students from applying or selecting the school once they have been accepted, said some Law School students. “The inadequate facilities and unattractive feel of the campus almost made me not want to attend,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous, citing the school’s lack of modern classroom equipment and up-to-date facilities as reasons for his reluctance.