Regents approve design for U-M Law School building project

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The University of Michigan Board of Regents today approved schematic designs for construction that will expand instructional space at the University's top-ranked Law School for the first time since the school's main classroom building opened in 1933.

artists rendering of The regents' vote approved designs by Hartman-Cox Architects of Washington, D.C., working in association with Michigan-based Integrated Design Solutions. The centerpiece of the project is a four-story instructional and administrative building---complementary to the Collegiate Gothic style of the iconic Law Quad---to be built just across Monroe Street, south of the existing buildings. But also integral to the project will be a new Law School Commons area, which will rise in an unused grassy area east of Hutchins Hall and south of the Legal Research Building.

"The buildings of Michigan's Law Quad are among the most distinguished on any American college campus, and symbolize the unique environment we provide for legal education," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "This impressive expansion builds upon that legacy as we work to educate the next generation of legal experts."

The new instructional building will add classrooms and clinical spaces suited to the changed requirements of a top legal education, which have evolved considerably since Hutchins Hall opened on the Law Quad in 1933. Today's law students take more small classes, have much more interaction with each other and with actual clients in supervised clinical settings, and draw heavily on such technologies as wireless networks. The new instructional building will be designed to meet all of those needs, in addition to providing more space for a student body that has more than doubled---and a law faculty that has more than quadrupled---since the last time the Law School added classroom space.


The Law School Commons, a two-story, glass-roofed center for student life including group study spaces, gathering spots, and a café, is destined to become the heart of the Law School, which already is noted for its collegial atmosphere. The Commons is strikingly designed to bring the classic spaces and outer walls of the Quad indoors, to help students connect with the unique and beautiful educational environment of the Law School---and with each other.

One last piece of the project: removing the gray metal siding that covers parts of the Legal Research Building and an elevated pedestrian walkway connecting that building with Hutchins Hall.

High-resolution artist's renderings of both buildings are available at: and or visit the building project page.

Total cost of the expansion and renovation project is estimated at $102 million and will be paid for with gifts from private donors, proceeds from University investments, and the resources of the Law School itself.

"On the cusp of our 150th anniversary, we welcome these additions to our historic and magnificent Law Quad," said Evan Caminker, dean of the Law School. He also noted that one building on the Quad, the Reading Room, was chosen for the American Institute of Architects list of America's 150 favorite buildings. "When these new buildings are completed, they will help Michigan Law lead the field of legal education for another 150 years."