First look: University of Utah's ‘teaching hospital for law’

University breaks ground on law school building designed to facilitate new approaches to legal education.

June 07, 2013 |
The University of Utah broke ground today on its cutting-edge College of Law building, which will facilitate new approaches to legal education based on more hands-on learning and skills training.
“With this new building, the College of Law will advance its mission to establish a ‘teaching hospital for law’-- an innovative vision for the future of legal education,” said University of Utah President David W. Pershing. “Expanded and improved facilities will enable a variety of educational tracks aimed at improving the human condition, including global justice and the evolving field of biolaw.”
Designed by VCBO Architecture (architect of record) and SmithGroupJJR (design architect), the facility will feature a library integrated throughout the building, state-of-the-art training facilities, spaces for collaborative research, advanced but flexible learning technology, practice courtrooms and a top-floor conference center. By providing a wide array of flexible spaces for small group training, the building efficiently provides more space-per-student, bringing it in line with peer institutions.
All images © VCBO/SMITHGROUP JJR Architecture and the College of Law
“This building will fulfill the educational needs of tomorrow’s lawyers while serving the broader Utah legal community and the community at large,” said Bob Adler, interim dean of the S. J. Quinney College of Law. “We are committed to using the facility in ways that will better prepare skilled attorneys and problem-solving leaders.”
The College of Law faculty plans to use the new building to expand its already substantial commitment to community service and community-engaged learning. University of Utah law students provided almost 50,000 hours of volunteer pro bono and clinical service during the 2012-13 academic year. The new building will enable the school to continue this tradition by providing facilities for direct client interaction.
The new building is designed to achieve LEED platinum certification, the highest designation using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards and will provide accessibility for a full range of disabilities. Located at the southwest corner of campus across from the Stadium TRAX station, the building will establish a welcoming gateway for visitors to the campus.
To date, the building has received generous support from the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the University of Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Alternative Visions Fund of the Chicago Community Trust as well as a growing number of law firms and individual donors.
The $4.5 million donation from the Alternative Visions Fund is dedicated specifically to taking the facility’s sustainable features to the next level. Among the attributes made possible through this donation are an innovative cooling system using groundwater from near the building site, recycling and reuse of building grey water to flush toilets and for other non-potable uses, on-site and off-site solar power generation, electric car charging stations and more.
Big-D Construction will begin work on the new, 155,000-square-foot building on June 17, and the building is expected to be ready for the 2015-16 academic year.
All plans courtesy VCBO Architecture
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