The stately structures that make up U-M Law School are one of many reasons the institution is so well known. Built between 1923 and 1933, these historic buildings boast intricate stone façades and period characteristics. The Law Quad holds a distinguished charm that U-M did not want altered, but growing enrollment and demand for gathering space at the Law School made additions inevitable. Walbridge was up for the task.
The additions came in the form of a 16,000-square-foot, skylight-enclosed commons space, named the Robert B. Aikens Commons, with a lower level and grand exterior entrance at 80-year-old Hutchins Hall; and a newly constructed 100,000-square-foot academic building, called South Hall, located directly across the street.
In addition, the project team removed a metal skyway connecting the Law Quad structures and installed a new glass and steel bridge. A new-and-improved façade on the Cook Legal Research Library collections wing – nicknamed “the Stacks” for the rows of old books it houses – was also part of the scope.
Walbridge took home a 2012 “Build Michigan Award” from the Associated General Contractors of Michigan for its work at U-M Law School.
The lower level of the Hutchins Hall addition offers study space, a café, dining facilities, elevators and restrooms.
An atrium on the main floor of the addition pours sunlight over a vast seating area that’s enclosed by the exposed 80-year-old skin of surrounding Law Quad structures.
The new four-story South Hall across the street takes the same collegiate gothic appearance of the time-honored Hutchins Hall, yet inside are high-tech classrooms and lecture halls, state-of-the-art multi-purpose facilities and contemporary administrative space.
The modern interior of South Hall, however, is adorned with details reminiscent of the Law School’s rich history, such as stained-glass caricatures salvaged from the renovation of Hutchins Hall.
It was very important to the university that the stone façade of South Hall meticulously match that of the older Law Quad structures.
Walbridge, which served as construction manager, achieved substantial completion of the new Aikens Commons and South Hall in September 2011 – three months ahead of schedule.