Law School Building Project Update - January 23, 2014
As the School of Law community enjoyed the holidays and the winter break, the team working on the law school addition and renovation project continued to make progress on the project design. The architects from ICON Architectural Group in Grand Forks and SHW Group in Detroit were on campus December 3 through 5 to conduct a workshop in which initial sketches were reviewed with the interested parties in a webcast Town Hall meeting. That meeting was followed by working sessions in which specific parts of the project were discussed with users, who were able to provide input that was directly incorporated into the design draft.
Construction Manager At Risk Hired
Another important development since the last update was the university's hiring of Grand Forks-based Construction Engineers, Inc., as the construction manager at risk for the project. Construction Engineers has designated personnel to work with the architects so that the design can be reconciled with the project budget, which had been reduced by the legislature and by the North Dakota University System office from the requested $12 million to $11.4 million.
A "schematic design" package was submitted to the construction manager on January 20. The package includes schematic drawings from the architects, the mechanical engineers, and the electrical engineers. The construction manager will use the schematic design to refine cost estimates, leading to the "design development" phase, in which construction documents will be completed and put out for subcontractor bids.
Design Taking Shape With Focus On The Student Educational Experience
The latest schematic design combines an addition of approximately 15,000 square feet with renovation of the original 1920s law school building and the law library that was built on the 1970s. If the addition and the full renovation were to be completed, all of the needs identified by the law school would be met, along with an ability to adapt to changing circumstances in the future.
The addition is planned for the triangular open space to the north of the existing law library, turning the "stepped" glass wall of the library into an interior wall. The addition introduces a new entry on the north, or University Avenue, side of the building, leading into a commons area that will promote student gathering and provide space for law school events. Clear pathways from the entry will lead to the legal clinic, to the law library, and to the student life and law school administration offices. The addition also includes a rest room core on each floor and a new elevator that accesses all levels.
The key features of the addition are directly related to the student educational experience. A medium-sized "case study" classroom will fill the gap between the large classrooms and the teaching spaces that accommodate seminars and small classes. The other major instructional space in the addition is a modern teaching courtroom that complements the more ceremonial nature of the Baker Courtroom. New multi-purpose conference/seminar/meeting rooms are designed into each floor of the addition, as well as in many parts of the renovated space.
New faculty offices will enable the school to bring all faculty into the law building and provide for growth in the future. Administrative workspace renovations will make offices more accessible to students and more efficient for staff. Security will be linked to a card access system that gives law students, faculty, and staff access to the building itself and to locations within the building at times when it is not open to the public.
Renovation priorities focus on the student experience. A completely renovated legal clinic will comfortably house up to 16 students with work space and interview/meeting rooms. A new flexible classroom will be constructed next to the large classroom on the basement level. The student organizations office will be located adjacent to a student life center that includes offices for student support functions from recruitment and admissions through career placement.
An extensive renovation of the law library is included in the schematic design. Library personnel are engaged in the national best practice of reducing the size of the collection, so that the focus can be on service rather than shelving. The collection would then be concentrated on the basement and third levels of the library. The first floor would become the focal point for library services and technology support, with the remainder of that floor converted into student gathering and study space. The planning for the second floor of the library includes office and work space for the co-curricular activities of student journals and moot court, and for the Student Bar Association. Office space for the Northern Plains Indian Law Center could also be part of the second floor library renovation. In a much welcomed new feature of the law library, rest rooms will be located within the library, for the first time since it opened in 1973!
The addition and renovation will emphasize the historic character of the original law school building, without trying to replicate the details in the addition. The case study classroom in the addition, for example, will have an arched ceiling similar to the current third floor. The renovations will be consistent with the original 1920s design, with the law library given a more modern and welcoming feel for students and other library users.
Next Step: Final Design Workshop
We are in the process of planning a final workshop with the architectural team this spring. Information about that workshop will be provided as soon as the dates are set.