College of Law Finalizes Plans for New Building

After more than six years of dreaming, programmatic innovations, architectural planning, and generating support locally and across the country, the College of Law’s new 155,000-gross-square-foot building will soon be a reality. In its 2012 session, the legislature provided full bonding authority to finance the project, as well as approval to use state funds to operate and maintain the building over its lifetime.

Meanwhile, Dean Hiram Chodosh has spearheaded efforts to raise funds from alumni, law firms, foundations, and others. In May, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contributed $4 million toward the new facility.  Other commitments include $15 million from the Quinney Foundation, an $18 million bequest from an individual donor, over $1 million in pledges from the College of Law Board of Trustees, and a 100% participation commitment from the Board of the Young Alumni Association. Others have also made generous contributions in order to help realize the College of Law’s vision of creating a law center  for the 21st century that is dedicated to educational innovations and community impact. 

A rendering of the proposed new College of Law building, circa 1962

A rendering of the proposed new College of Law building, circa 1962

All agree that a new facility is overdue.  The current building, which opened in 1963, suffers from a number of oft-cited failings including a lack of useful student and meeting space, decrepit heating and air conditioning systems, and inadequate classroom and office facilities. Accreditation teams in 2001 and 2009 were highly critical of the current facility, and recent studies concluded that retrofitting or remodeling the current building would be cost-prohibitive.

This past spring, a committee that included representatives from the state, the private sector, and the university selected Big-D Construction as general contractor and the team of SmithGroup and VCBO as the design architects.  

“We are thrilled with the selection of these partners,” said Chodosh “Given Big-D’s demonstrated history of constructing innovative public facilities, including the new Natural History Museum of Utah and the Salt Lake City Public Library, among others, we believe they will be an ideal general contractor as we envision and build a dynamic and flexible facility designed to meet the needs of the next century of legal education.”

“The impact of the new building,” 
Dean Hiram Chodosh predicts,
“will extend far beyond a 
state-of-the-art law school.
Rather, the building will create 
a teaching hospital for law.”

 “Working with Big-D, SmithGroup and VCBO, now in our third phase of planning, we will design the most innovative law school in the nation, a facility that provides a student-centric environment for applied learning, collaboration between students and faculty, and unprecedented levels of service to the community,” Chodosh continued. 

The new building will include a library that is central to the building’s core, a 450-seat conference center on the top floor that will accommodate both College of Law programs and outside events, flexible classroom and office space, and a technology infrastructure that is designed to facilitate blended learning, simulation, and multi-site conferencing.  The facility will also be one of the most accessible buildings in the country for the physically disabled and extremely efficient.  If all goes according to the current plans, it will be the first Platinum Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified law school in the world, and will serve as  a model in the effort to reduce energy and water consumption.

Preliminary floorplan design for the new College of Law.

Preliminary floorplan design for the new College of Law.

Beyond the specifics of the construction, Chodosh allows that the law school community is excited by the learning innovations the facility will support, from collaborative space for the College of Law’s interdisciplinary centers to vastly expanded and reorganized student space and flexible classroom environments.  

“The impact of the new building,” he predicts, “will extend far beyond a state-of-the-art law school.  “Rather, the building will create a teaching hospital for law—an environment that allows us to offer our students invaluable hands-on experience through teaching innovations, educational technology, applied simulations, and collaborative learning, while providing direct service to the community in the form of our record-breaking clinical and pro bono programs.”   

The new College of law building is tentatively scheduled to break ground on June 4, 2013, the 100th anniversary of the College of Law’s first commencement ceremony.  It is currently slated to open in 2015. 


Read the complete Autumn 2012 edition of Res Gestae >>