765 Commonwealth Avenue
While the Law Tower was an iconic architectural structure on the BU campus, its usability as a modern educational facility was outmoded by evolving legal education trends. Recognizing that the Law School needed a facility that offered the appropriate space and modern amenities to meet the contemporary requirements of legal education, BU moved forward with this very important project. An $18 million gift from Sumner M. Redstone—executive chairman of VIACOM and CBS Corporation—made the project possible. In both the new Redstone Building and the renovated Law Tower, students benefit from additional classrooms, comfortable meeting spaces, and expanded study areas that enhance both their educational and student life experiences.
Located to the west of the Law Tower, the 100,000-square-foot, five-story structure houses most of the Law School’s classrooms, which are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The new building expands the Pappas Law Library, increases study space, and provides new facilities to support clinical, transactional, and professional training programs. An expansive new entrance features a glass-enclosed atrium that welcomes visitors and serves as the heart and social hub of the complex. Student locker facilities, lounges, a small dining facility, and other student function and informal meeting spaces are located throughout the new building. The height of the new building and the placement of its façade elements derive from an analysis outlined in the 2008 Preservation Master Plan. The materials, color, and exterior detailing of the new building were calibrated to respect and complement the architecture of the five original Josep Lluís Sert buildings (Law Tower, Central Boiler Plant, Pappas Law Library, Mugar Library, and George Sherman Union). The new Law School entry faces a paved entry forecourt off the main east-west pedestrian path. Detailing and paving materials identify it as part of the Law School and help define the Law School precinct. The pedestrian path was regraded, paved, and landscaped with new trees and plantings. The open area to the north and east of the Law Tower was restored and replanted to reinforce the existing character of the area and of the Alpert Mall to the east. The space between the Law Tower and Pappas Library was redesigned to emphasize the visual connection between the original and the new entrances to the School. Plantings are native species and select ornamental species that maintain the existing planted character of the BU campus.
Law Tower Renovation
The 18-story Law Tower underwent a complete renovation. The design faithfully rehabilitates most of Sert’s original tower while taking deliberate measures within the architect’s design vocabulary to make the existing building more acceptable to the 21st-century needs of its inhabitants. All windows were replaced with thermally insulated units reflecting the pattern and profile of the original building. The exterior concrete panels that define the building’s architectural aesthetic were totally refurbished. The tower was revamped with new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, larger bathrooms, and modern facilities to house the School’s administrative departments, faculty offices, moot courtrooms, and writing programs. The spalled cast-in-place concrete of the existing building was repaired where needed and care will be taken to match existing color and texture as much as possible. Precast fins and other precast elements on the exterior were repaired or replaced as necessary. All exterior concrete was cleaned. Some of the full-story precast panels were replaced with glass in a manner consistent with the original compositional intent of the building façade.
New high-speed, high-capacity elevators
New classrooms in the Redstone Building
Seat café overlooking the Charles River
Additional group study rooms
Project TeamProject Management: David Flynn, Nancy Joyce & Kevin Dunn (Facilities Management & Planning); Compass Project Management, Inc.
Architect: Bruner/Cott & Associates
General Contractor: Skanska USA
Structural Engineer:Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
MEP/FP Engineer: Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers, LLC
Project News & Alerts
- September 24, 2015
Except for a few last-minute touches, the exterior and interior makeover of the Law Tower is now complete and right on schedule, rising in its fully restored glory beside the attached Sumner M. Redstone Building, which opened in 2014.
- March 17, 2015
Among the daily parade of students and faculty crossing campus in the shadow of the BU School of Law tower are some who wonder why the building, widely considered one of the less attractive on campus, is being so meticulously refurbished.