Urban Campus

Law School Building

History - Getting to UR's campus

The law school began admitting students for Richmond College on October 10, 1870 at the school's original campus. The original campus is located east of the current campus at, what is now, the intersection of Grace and Lombardy street. The law school had its start in the Columbia building. It moved around quite a bit before moving to its current spot on the university's campus. In 1914, the law school moved from the Columbia building to the first floor of Ryland Hall on the current campus. However after realizing the limited amount of space inside Ryland Hall, the law school moved once again back to the Columbia building. It wasn't until September of 1954 that the law school moved to its current location on the north-east side of UR's campus. The reasoning for the new building was proposed by Dean William T. Muse. He cited a lack of space for the law school's growing library collection, as well as lack of space for the growing number of enrolling students. He also stated that the original facility, the Columbia Building, was often criticized by accrediting teams that sporadically inspect the school. In order to fund the building, the University held a banquet. The original goal was set at $150,000, half from Richmond businesses and the other half from alumni. However, the ending total from the fundraiser was around $400,000. The building's construction was the largest building enterprise the University had undertaken in its history.

The new building was designed by Carneal and Johnston. To conform with the rest of campus, the building was designed in Collegiate Gothic style. It was mainly built with brick layered in a flemish bond. The initial design was for a library, one classroom, and a student lounge on the first floor. The second floor had the courtroom, two classrooms and a seminar room. Finally, on the top floor was student conference center and another seminar room. The construction of the building began in October, 1952 and opened it's doors in October, 1954. The building was dedicated to Dr. George Modlin on October 15, 1954. The final cost of construction was $400,000 which is roughly equivalent to 3.5 million dollars in 2016. The new building was received very well by both the students and alumni. David Mays, author of The Pursuit of Excellence: A History of the University of Richmond law school writes that it was judged as handsome, modern, and utilitarian. The building allowed for the amount of students enrolled to double.

The Law School building has been changed twice since it has arrived at UR's campus. In both cases, the primary focus of the additions were in the addition of library space and the addition of new students. The schools library has grown exponentially since its arrival on campus. The multiple additions has allowed for an increase of over 10,000 books as well as ample study space. The second reason was enrollment of new law school students. Since it's arrival to UR's campus, the number of students enrolled in the law school has nearly tripled.

The first of the two was in 1971. The additions were made to the western side of the building. The cost of these additions was around $750,000, roughly equivalent to 4.2 million dollars. Half of the expenses were covered by alumni donations and the other half was matched by Claireborne Robins. The addition created space for around 160 new law school students. This was due to the increasing number of applicants at the time. Prior to this addition, the school had yet to enroll a single african american and very few women. However as the times were becoming more progressive, these numbers began to increase. The building's addition needed to account for these new applicants. It included two new classrooms as well as seven faculty offices. They also added recreation rooms and doubled the library space. The construction was fully completed in April, 1973. 

The final addition to the building was done began in 1991. This was the larger of the two renovations, adding over 47,000 square feet to the building. The most substantial space increase was in the building's library. This expansion included the construction of individual carrels for the law school students to study in privacy. Each carrel is 16 to 18 square feet and has personal storage space. They also revamped the Moot Courtroom, providing it with more up to date technology. The addition also included five new classrooms and administrative areas such as the new dean's office. Notably, this project finalized a change of main entrances to the law school building. Prior to this addition, the main entrance to the Law School building was located on the eastern side. After the construction of the new entrance plaza, the main entrance was now on the western side of the building. The final cost of construction was estimated to be around 9 million dollars which is roughly 15 million dollars in today's market.

When looking at the current Law School building, it gives off the appearance of an L-shape. However, the interior hallway layout is more or less in the shape of a P. With the top part centering around the library. This allows for a nice flow with very little foot traffic. The majority of important rooms such as the classrooms, are tucked away in the circle of the P, whereas the more public rooms like the Atrium or the courtroom make up the lower straight portion. This prevents unnecesary students from walking by the classrooms and faculty offices. The majority of the student activity in the building takes place in the library which gives good reason for it to be the central point of the layout.

The building currently is sized at 109,299 square feet after both renovations. The total value of the building is estimated at roughly 22.7 million dollars in the 2016 market. It is currently considered the sanctuary of about 600 law school students. 

Law School Building