Virtually invisible to College Avenue passersby, the Law School’s newly dedicated East Wing – a subterranean, turf-covered assemblage of auditorium-style classrooms – has a bright secret: its “openness, its clarity, its accessibility.”
So declared Stewart J. Schwab, before cutting a ceremonial ribbon April 23 in one of his last official acts as the Allan R. Tessler Dean. The event honored Schwab, who will return to teaching following a sabbatical year, for his two terms leading the school. The $23.8 million project, which broke ground in June 2012, is the first of three phases in the school’s $60 million expansion and renovation plan.
Schwab said the classrooms are “good to teach and learn in, the gathering space is inviting, and the look and feel are great. I think the space will wear well over time and remain a source of pride for us.”
If the new wing (designed Boston-based Ann Beha Architects) is a metaphor “for what we aspire to in law as well as the Law School,” as the dean said, the 1930s predecessor is something else:
“Now we also love our existing building, with its nooks and crannies, alleyways and byways, Gothic feel,” Schwab told his ribbon-cutting audience. “Indeed, some have told me that original Myron Taylor Hall is a wonderful metaphor for legal study. You can’t possibly know your way around after a semester or year. But after three years you know and appreciate the connections [and] which paths are dead ends.”
Comprising two 70-seat classrooms, a 170-seat auditorium and a glassed-in lobby/study space, the wing tunnels almost all the way to College Avenue. Public access is through a newly configured entrance in Myron Taylor Hall. “Clarity” and “openness” are afforded by west-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that open to Purcell Courtyard. This new commons area was designed to re-engage that public space in the life of the school and foster a greater sense of community. The courtyard will open in time for Law School Convocation, May 11.
Eduardo M. Peñalver ’94 succeeds Schwab this summer.