Law school plans for new building

University administrators are discussing development plans for a new, $31 million law school building and garage on the Foggy Bottom campus, officials said last week.

The building would add classroom space for the law school and feature below-ground parking, which will be a treasured commodity once the University parking garage is demolished as planned in the University’s 20-year campus plan, said Alicia O’Neil, senior associate vice president for operations.

A feasibility study for the building – which is slated to be built on Square 103, located between 20th and 21st streets and F and G streets – will be conducted throughout the year, O’Neil said.

Nearly $25 million is to be allocated for “five below-grade levels, four of which will be used for parking” for the new development site, according to the University’s Capital Budget.

“The additional parking spaces would provide the University with on-campus parking to help offset the parking that we will lose as the result of the anticipated demolition of the University Parking Garage for the construction of the Science and Engineering Complex,” O’Neil said.

Proposed classroom space would be located on an above-ground building at the site of the new parking garage, O’Neil said.

The estimated cost of the buildout is $6 million and will be funded by the law school according to the Budget.

“[Square 103] is an evolving discussion of space needs,” law school Dean Fred Lawrence said.

More classroom space would give the law school more freedom to determine class sizes and offerings, Lawrence said.

“Decisions on course class sizes in the past have often been limited by architecture,” Lawrence said. “The Law Learning Center will allow such future decisions to be based on curricular needs and not on architecture.”

O’Neil added that because space is the primary concern for law school administrators, talks of potentially using one of the below-ground levels for classroom space are in the works.

“Classroom space for the law school may also be included on the first level below-grade in this development, but more information will be available after the study,” O’Neil said.

While the primary purpose of the site is to create additional parking spaces and classrooms, student groups at the law school will also benefit, Lawrence said.

“The space will feature large and small classroom space, but also will involve new library spaces and areas for student groups and student activities,” Lawrence said.

He added, “The Law Learning Center will allow for student activities to meet in the center of campus rather in the space the law school rents at 2029 K St.”

Although the project is still in the development and research stages, both the law school and University communities are supportive of the anticipated project, Lawrence said.

“The faculty and alumni leadership that I have spoken with are very enthusiastic about this project, and we at the law school are very grateful for their support,” he said.

A total of $300,000, taken from the 2009 Fiscal Year Budget, will be used in planning and development studies for the project.

“The start of construction on this site is contingent on a number of factors and is still to be determined,” O’Neil said.

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