The University Board of Regents is slated to vote Thursday on a proposed $102 million addition to the Law School.
The project would include the construction of two buildings: an approximately 100,000- square foot academic building south of Monroe Street for classrooms and office space and an approximately 16,000-square foot student commons building between Hutchins Hall and the Cook Legal Research Building for study areas and lounge facilities for students.
The addition would also include upgrades to Hutchins Hall and the Cook Legal Research Building.
According to the proposal, Law School resources, University investment proceeds and donations will fund the project.
Christopher Jeffries, a 1974 graduate of the Law School, gave $5 million in September to help fund the project.
When planning for the renovation began in 2003, Law School officials asked the Italian architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design schematics.
But as the concept, originally expected to cost $75 million, began to look more expensive and evasive – parts of Hutchins Hall would have been closed off because of the construction – Law School officials decided to hire new architects for the project. The University is asking the regents to approve the hiring of Washington, D.C.-based architectural firm Hartman-Cox Architects, which has developed plans for law school buildings at Georgetown University, Tulane University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Diane Brown, facilities and operations spokeswoman, said it’s uncommon for cost estimates attached to University projects to increase the way they did when Law School renovation talks took place a few years ago.
“In this case, there were a number of considerable changes made in the Law School,” Brown said.
For instance, Renzo Piano began planning schematics before current Law School Dean Evan Caminker was appointed.
Neither Caminker nor Rebecca Eisenberg, who leads the Law School’s Building Committee, could be reached for comment yesterday.
If the proposal is approved Thursday, regents would have to approve the design of the additions. The third step in the process would require regents to approve a construction schedule – a process that could take months.
Several students said the proposed additions would be vast improvements compared to what’s available now.
First-year Law student Stephanie Song said there are only two places – the snack lounge and the Lawyer’s Club – that students can hold conversations freely in the Law School.
“There’s a problem of student groups not having enough space,” said Lisa Helem, a second-year law student.
If the project is built, it would replace 89 surface parking spots near Monroe Street.
– Elizabeth Lai contributed to this report.