Already laying claim to a top-caliber faculty, the School of Law now plans to build educational space to match.
A planned renovation of LAW’s 265-foot tower, involving interior upgrades and construction of a new west wing,has been jump-started by two BU trustees. Stephen Zide (LAW’86), managing director of Bain Capital, in New York, gave $1 million, and Richard Cartier Godfrey (LAW’79), a senior partner at the firm Kirkland & Ellis, in Chicago has given $1.5 million. They are among almost two dozen “founding partners”who have already pledged contributions to the project.
The University has agreed to underwrite the bulk of the renovation and construction project—$141 million—but is asking donors to contribute $20 million to fund the rest by May 2012, when officials hope that groundbreaking on the new wing will start.
LAW is “one of the true jewels of BU’s crown,” BU President Robert A. Brown has said. “Now it is time for us to make a major strategic investment to support the school in its tradition of excellence.”
“The law school’s continued excellence is central to the University’s goal of being one of the leading urban universities,” Zide says. “During my time as a student there a quarter-century ago, the law school tower needed improvements to bring the facilities in line with the quality of the faculty and the balance of the educational experience.”
The half-century old tower’s deficiencies include some that impede education, LAW leaders say. Acoustic and visual impairments hamper learning in some classrooms with steeply tiered seating, the result of configuring space in a vertical building. Study space is in tight supply; the heating, air conditioning,roof, and windows are antiquated; and there can be long elevator waits during peak hours to reach classrooms that are as high as the 15th floor.
The new west wing, to sit atop what is now a courtyard and underground heating plant, will house most of LAW’s classrooms, new study space, and a new library to complement the existing Pappas Law Library. Construction of the wing is expected to take two years, and the rest of the tower will be renovated over the next 15 months, says Cornell L. Stinson, LAW assistant dean for development and alumni relations.
In addition to utility improvements, faculty and administrative offices will move to the upper floors, and a pedestrian concourse will be added to the ground floor, with an atrium and stairway on the east end for a new main entrance.
“Overall, the main flow of people on our campus will be horizontal, rather than vertical,” according to a LAW brochure on the project.
Giving to the project,Zide says, represents “an opportunity to be part of both solidifying the leadership of the law school and moving BU forward toward its goals.”
Rich Barlow can be reached at email@example.com.