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Law School by SmithGroup Opens in NYLaw School by SmithGroup Opens in NY

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Posted: 09/03/09 07:01am  Reply with quote
Law School by SmithGroup Opens in NY

SmithGroup, one of the nation's leading architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firms, is proud to announce the opening of a new academic center for New York Law School located in the heart of New York City's historic TriBeCa neighborhood.

The $145 million facility will serve over 1,500 students. Construction, which began in 2006, was completed in conjunction with BKSK Architects and general contractor Pavarini McGovern, both headquartered in New York.

"The new academic center celebrates the close connection of New York Law School to its community," said Tom Butcavage, AIA, LEED AP, a SmithGroup vice president who served as design principal for the project. "The open modern design conveys the school's values and legacy of integrity, collaboration and public service, and creates a new civic icon for TriBeCa."

The 200,000-square-foot contemporary, glass enclosed facility, constructed upon the law school's former parking lot, rises five stories above ground with four stories below grade. As part of the university's mission to create a highly visible civic landmark, SmithGroup's design showcases its student interaction and community spaces, which are located along the 200-foot long glass corridors. Event spaces including a large auditorium and multipurpose space provide opportunities for public lecture series and outreach programs.

Students, faculty, and the public access the building through its dramatic main entrance of glass and steel curtainwall, strategically located at the apex of West Broadway, Varick and Leonard Streets across from the Franklin Street subway station. Other major program components include the law library, classrooms, research and professional practice areas, student break out areas, a large student cafe, and a variety of meeting rooms.

Slurry wall construction of the underground levels was a significant undertaking in a site with exceptionally high water tables and adjacent subway lines. Working closely with New York-based structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti and Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, the SmithGroup team determined that the unusual design was feasible. The space, one of the largest and deepest occupied areas below grade in New York City, now features the large courtroom auditorium on the first basement level and the law library, which occupies the three lower levels. State-of-the art acoustical construction shields the classrooms and lower level areas from subway and streetlife noise.

When the New York Law School administration began exploring expansion options in 2003, they evaluated relocating, but opted to remain in lower Manhattan, in the midst of the country's largest concentration of courts, government agencies, law firms, and banks. The new center creates new opportunities for New York Law School, founded in 1891, to continue to provide excellent legal education for its students and to establish a new presence as a visible active participant in its TriBeCa neighborhood.

According to New York Law School Dean and President Richard Matasar, the new facility serves as a state-of-the-art academic center for its growing law school population. "The new building is an embodiment of our ideals," said Matasar. "It presents a vibrant, activist, transparent, face to the world and simultaneously houses the deep, collaborative culture of our school. Every nook and cranny of the building provides a place for faculty, students, and staff to work together and leverage technology to bring resources to the school and to share our knowledge with those outside our walls. We now have a place that makes our credo 'Learn Law and Take Action' come alive."

SmithGroup ( is the longest continually operating architecture and engineering firm in the U.S., founded in 1853. A national leader in sustainable design with 37 LEED certified projects to date, SmithGroup currently employs 800 and is recognized as one of the country's top law school design firms. Noteworthy, recent projects in higher education include the design of a new 170,000-square-foot law school for Villanova University in Radnor, PA; a new 240,000-square-foot facility for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law on the University's new Carolina North campus; a major addition and renovation while the school was in continuous operation for Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, TN; and the Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. In 2008, a SmithGroup-designed campus center for Indiana University was completed on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.

BKSK Architects ( was established in 1985 and is now a six partner, forty-person firm headquartered in New York City. Their diverse range of work is notable for its design excellence, and reflects their commitment to contextually appropriate and environmentally conscious architecture. Recently completed projects include Queens Botanical Visitor's Center, New York City's first platinum-rated public building, and winner of the prestigious national AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) and NY State AIA "Best in State" 2008 design awards. Their numerous projects in TriBeCa have also won multiple awards, and have been consistently praised by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

New York Law School (, founded in 1891, is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city's centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School's renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the school's strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its four advanced degree programs in financial services law, real estate, tax, and mental disability law studies.

CONTACT: Elaine Gray EMAIL: PHONE: 202.974.0869
SOURCE: SmithGroup
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