While Law School faculty and students enjoy technologically advanced classrooms, offices and meeting areas in the school's new wing, administrators see the building as a springboard that will help propel the school further into the top rank of American law schools.
Known as the East Wing, the four-story structure represents the completion of the second phase of a four-part building program at the Law School. The wing includes five classrooms, 14 faculty and administrative offices, two conference rooms and a student lounge.
The new building also houses the John J. and Mary Daly Curtin Public Interest Center, a suite of offices for student groups working on public service projects.
"In the 70 years since Boston College Law School was founded, it has developed into one of the premier national law schools in the United States," said Interim Law Dean James Rogers. "The opening of the East Wing represents a major step in assuring that the physical plant will support the Law School's ambitious plans for further advances in academic excellence and the education of students for lives of accomplishment and service."
First-year law student Bryan Olson uses his laptop computer to access Web materials during a class last week.
The wing's brick exterior complements that of the law library and the Stuart House administrative building, both of which are connected to the structure. The three buildings form a courtyard which Associate Dean for Administration Michael Cassidy said "will provide an attractive common area to help promote a sense of community" among faculty and students.
Three large classrooms - one with a capacity of 120, and two 150-seat classrooms which can be converted to a single 300-seat auditorium - highlight the first floor. Like the building's other two classrooms, these contain power and data connections at each seat that allow students using laptop computers to access Internet-based legal materials during class. Using a small, touch-sensitive control screen at the front of the room, faculty or other presenters can easily operate video, computer and film projections.
The school's branch of the Audio-Visual Department is also located on the ground floor, as is a student lounge in which four computer terminals soon will be installed.
The second floor features a consolidated and expanded Career Services office, including a career resource library and seven interview rooms.
The third floor houses mainly faculty offices and a 96-seat classroom, an arrangement Cassidy said encourages greater student-faculty interaction. The Curtin Public Interest Center takes up one corner of the floor. It includes offices for the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Holocaust-Human Rights Project, the St. Thomas More Society and similar student groups.
More faculty offices, as well as a 56-seat classroom and the school's moot court, are located on the fourth floor.
Cassidy noted other features, such as the wing's atrium entry and light-filled spaces, which lend an aesthetic quality to the building's practical characteristics. Adorning the hallways and stairwells are numerous large photographs depicting scenes with significance in legal and social history, such as Boston's African-American Meeting House and Runnymede in England, site of the Magna Carta signing.
"We couldn't be happier with the results," said Cassidy. "The East Wing answers many needs for faculty and students, and will play an important role as the Law School enters a new era."
The first phase of the building program was completed when the law library opened in 1996. The next phase, scheduled to begin in 2001, will completely remodel the old law library to accommodate three dining halls and a bookstore. The fourth phase, scheduled for 2007, involves a new administrative and classroom building to replace Stuart House.
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