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### Top Law School Architectural Marvels

We celebrate structures that emit unique vibes, characterized by their appearance and functionality. These buildings boast exceptional aesthetics, ample space, and top-notch amenities.

During a two-year period, Tyler Brewster and his peers at the University of Houston Law Center had a firsthand view of the construction of a $93 million facility adjacent to the old law school building.

In September 2022, the John M. O’Quinn Law Building, the newest law school edifice in Texas, was officially unveiled by the school.

The building is truly remarkable. Standing at five stories tall, the LEED Silver certified structure spans 180,000 square feet.

Dean of the Law Center, Leonard Baynes, described the building as groundbreaking, emphasizing its innovative design and functionality.

Brewster, now a third-year student, lauded the building’s ultra-modern design with abundant open spaces and expansive windows that allow ample natural light to flood in.

He contrasted the new building with the old law school, which he likened to a military bunker due to its predominantly concrete structure and minimal windows.

Brewster shared that his favorite spot within the new building is the outdoor patio on the third floor, offering a panoramic view of the Houston skyline, where he often enjoys lunch or studies when the weather permits.

Crafted by the architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch, the building features courtrooms, research spaces, event venues, and various student amenities, including a meditation room, a lactation room, commuter showers with changing areas, and an AI-operated convenience store accessible round the clock.

These attributes contributed to the building’s recognition in preLaw’s honor roll for Best Law School Buildings, with a notable grade of A. Aesthetics play a pivotal role in the assessment, accounting for 50% of the score, while other factors include square footage per student, library resources, amenities like food services and fitness facilities, and sustainability measures.

Brewster frequents the serene upper level of the two-story library when seeking a conducive environment for focused study or work, drawing motivation from the inspiring view of the Houston skyline visible through the tall windows.

Many top law school buildings offer a plethora of amenities such as suit-sized lockers, fitness facilities, and food options. Technological advancements also feature prominently, as exemplified by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law building at Arizona State University, which incorporates large digital screens in the lobby for student information dissemination.

Continued Excellence: Memphis Leads the Way

Among the honored law schools, The University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law stands out for its consistent performance, clinching the top spot four times. The school’s blend of historic charm with modern amenities has been a winning formula. Housed in a building dating back to 1878, the law school underwent renovations in 2010, equipping it with contemporary technology, updated classrooms, and generous facilities.

Memphis Law serves as a focal point for the local legal community, hosting numerous events that foster legal education and community engagement.

Dean Katharine Schaffzin highlighted ongoing efforts to enhance the school’s technological infrastructure, with smart classrooms that can record and stream activities for remote participants, as well as a dedicated wellness room equipped with resources for student relaxation and well-being.

In the latest rankings, eleven law schools achieved an A+ rating, with the University of Michigan Law School making its debut in this elite group, particularly excelling in building aesthetics.

The Law Quadrangle at the University of Michigan is renowned for its picturesque setting, featuring Gothic-style architecture, residential facilities like the Lawyers Club, modern library facilities, and innovative additions like Jeffries Hall and Aikens Commons.

Georgia State University College of Law has also been a three-time A+ recipient, boasting a 200,000 square-foot building in downtown Atlanta. The on-campus clinic space simulates a real law firm environment, providing private offices for student-client meetings, conference rooms, and ample study areas with scenic views of the city.

The law library at Georgia State offers a designated quiet floor for focused study, along with a podcast studio equipped with the latest recording technology for student use.

The University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, recognized for the third time with an A+ rating, spans a beautifully landscaped 17-acre campus. Recent developments include consolidating 14 clinics into MacKenzie Hall, enhancing community engagement and practical training opportunities for students.

Dean Eboni Nelson emphasized the importance of centralizing the clinics to promote collaboration and further the school’s mission of community outreach.

While many top law schools are situated in bustling urban centers, Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, distinguishes itself with a serene forested campus adjoining the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. The school’s focus on environmental law is reflected in the architecture, with recent upgrades earning it an A grade in our evaluation.

Innovative Additions: Embracing Change

Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, recently inaugurated a new 65,000-square-foot building, commemorating distinguished alumnus Sen. Robert J. Dole. The state-of-the-art facility, funded by a significant community contribution, incorporates sustainable features and cutting-edge technology to support collaborative learning and remote education initiatives.

The building’s design includes energy-efficient lighting, smart classrooms with recording capabilities, and advanced technology infrastructure tailored for remote learning programs like Third Year Anywhere.

Meanwhile, Wayne State University Law School in Detroit is embarking on a new chapter with plans for a state-of-the-art facility, supported by a substantial financial commitment from the state of Michigan. The project underscores the school’s growth and commitment to excellence in legal education.

Preserving Heritage: Balancing Tradition and Innovation

Law schools recognize the dual role of new structures in educating future legal professionals and enriching surrounding communities. While modern buildings contribute to urban revitalization and community engagement, historic structures hold a special place in legal education.

Yale Law School’s Sterling Hall, dating back to 1931, stands as an iconic structure that blends tradition with modern functionality, earning it a commendable grade in our assessment.

Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles repurposed a historic department store building from 1929 into its current campus, showcasing a unique transformation that has consistently earned accolades in our rankings.

Similarly, Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, housed in a former 1920s hotel, has successfully integrated historical charm with contemporary legal education, earning top marks in our evaluations.

As Washburn University pays tribute to distinguished alumni through murals and outdoor plazas, University of Houston Law Center’s new building serves as a living testament to the diverse heritage of its alumni and the city it represents.

Dean Baynes emphasized the building’s role in preserving history and showcasing the school’s legacy, symbolizing both its past achievements and future potential.

Brewster, embodying the spirit of progress and tradition, views the new building as a symbol of the school’s success and aspirations for the future, bridging the gap between past accomplishments and future endeavors.

For more insights, refer to the digital issue article and preLaw magazine’s comprehensive rankings of the Best Law Buildings.