Law School Building Project Update - October 4, 2013
The last part of September saw continued progress on the School of Law's building project. The first workshop of the design phase of the project was held at the law school on September 24 and 25. An online survey of the entire law school community was made available on September 23. Members of the Building Planning Committee went with the architectural team on a benchmarking tour of the four law schools in the Twin Cities on September 30 and October 1. The architects and engineering consultants continue to collect and analyze data about the existing facility and to gain greater knowledge of the conditions of the site for an addition. And the planning has begun for the next design workshop during the week of October 21.
Design Workshop #1 – Project Programming
The lead members of the architectural team of ICON and SHW Group spent two full days at the School of Law conducting the first design workshop, focused on the law school programming that will identify the needs to be addressed in the renovation and addition to the existing facility. The workshop featured user group sessions, tours and photographing of the building, and a review of how the building currently meets and falls short of the program of legal education that the law school strives to deliver. The architects met with law faculty, students, and staff members to solicit answers to a standard set of questions:
- what are the purpose and function of various users of the building
- how are the existing spaces used to fulfill that purpose
- what relationships and adjacencies would improve functioning
- what has been the history and what are the plans for growth or contraction of that function
- what works well in the existing space
- what doesn't work well or even actually impedes success
- what features are missing that would allow for greater success
- what special needs or equipment needs should be met, and
- how would the user group define success for the building project
The end of the design workshop coincidentally overlapped with the start of a law library consultant visit to the law school by Joan S. Howland, Associate Dean for Information & Technology at the University Of Minnesota School Of Law and the incoming chair of the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The Building Planning Committee took advantage of the overlap by scheduling a dinner for the architects and the consultant to discuss the future of law libraries and of legal education in general.
A survey of the users of the law school and law library building was developed by the architects and the Building Planning Committee, and was made available to the law school community beginning on September 23. The survey provides an opportunity for everyone in the law school – students, staff, and faculty – to offer individual input on detailed questions comparable to those that were addressed in the user group sessions. The results of the survey will be collected and analyzed by the architectural team in preparation for sharing the data with the law school in the next design workshop later in October.
Benchmarking Visits to Twin Cities Law Schools
The Building Planning Committee and the architectural team took advantage of the proximity and relatively low cost of visits to the four law schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. William Mitchell and Hamline were seen on September 30, and St. Thomas and Minnesota on October 1. Following the practice used by the architects in other law school building projects, a half-day visit at each school allowed for a tour and meetings with representatives of the school to examine the facility and discuss the pluses and minuses of various features of the design. A report on what was learned from the benchmarking tour, along with data from other benchmarking that the architects have performed, will be included in the October design workshop.
Next Step: Design Workshop #2 – Design Visioning
The second design workshop will be centered on an open town hall meeting at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22. All of the information, opinions and requests gathered since the beginning of the design phase in August will come together in this second design workshop, which will focus on what the architects describe as visioning. The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate a shared process of understanding the needs and wishes that have been identified and of prioritizing those objectives, in light of the design feasibility and the project funding that the state has appropriated to the university.