Law School Architecture

THE LAW SCHOOL

Eero Saarinen, Architect
Originally located in Stuart Hall, on the other side of the Midway, the Law School needed room to expand by the 1950s. A site across the Midway, near the National Headquarters of the American Bar Association, was chosen. The new facilities would be a mix of old and new, in keeping with the distinguished architectural design of Eero Saarinen. Saarinen, a famed Finnish-American modernist architect of the twentieth century, had been known for his designs for New York’s Idlewild Airport (now JFK) and St. Louis’s Gateway Arch. He designed a space for the Law School that was thoroughly modern while respecting the formal beauty of the nineteenth-century gothic buildings across the Midway.

The original buildings in Saarinen’s design include the Administration Wing, the D’Angelo Law Library and Green Lounge, and the Classroom Wing, including Classrooms I-IV. Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court laid the cornerstone in 1958. Vice President Richard Nixon dedicated the buildings at their completion in October 1959.

Additions to the facility in the 1990s include the Arthur Kane Center for Clinical Legal Education and an expansion of classroom and seminar room space underneath the original row of auditorium classrooms. Recent renovations include a revamp of the D’Angelo Law Library, which preserved the outer shell but modernized the infrastructure and replaced the interior finishes and furnishings with selections more in keeping with the exterior design; the relocation of Student Services to the third floor of the Library; and the replacement of the original spray fountain and pool in the front plaza with a zero-depth reflecting pool, which preserves the shape and flow of the original Saarinen design while increasing its reliability in all weather conditions.

CONSTRUCTION IN SPACE IN THE THIRD AND FOURTH DIMENSION

Antoine Pevsner, sculptor

The sculpture in the reflecting pool, Construction in Space in the Third and Fourth Dimension, was designed by Russian expatriate Antoine Pevsner and installed in 1964. It was hailed by critics as an expert use of the compositional space created by Saarinen’s design. “The sculpture,” writes Katherine Kuh, in the Saturday Review, July 25, 1964, “specifically planned to be seen from all sides, changes as the observer varies his position, an act requiring deliberation. To view it from a window in the Law Library is a radically different experience from approaching it at street level. Rarely has a sculpture been more fully oriented to the multilateral possibilities of its structure.”