The Coolest Law School Buildings In The World
You only get one chance to make a first impression.
If you can’t make a statement with your ranking, faculty research, placement rate, or tuition rate, you have only one real option: Architecture.
Like any business, law schools rely on packaging. And the use of color, light, space, and greenery conveys a message. Stone, pillars, gargoyles, and ivy reflect a school steeped in tradition and prestige. And a glassy exterior with solar panels symbolizes a forward-thinking institution committed to sustainability. Either way, these buildings are the physical manifestations of the law’s ultimate ends: to preserve, balance, clarify, remedy, and move forward.
These days, law schools are racing to provide more and better. The result? Students have grown accustomed to jaw-dropping views, open-air courtyards, state-of-the-art auditoriums, roomy moot courts, sun-drenched atriums, and wide walkways. There are nods to nearly every architectural period imaginable, all tied together with an eco-friendly bow. These days, law schools are landmarks, a blending of the aesthetic with the practical that suggests a vibrancy that never overshadows the discipline’s underlying seriousness.
So which law schools are the most architecturally pleasing? Recently, BestChoiceSchools ranked the 50 best law school buildings in the world, based on their “ingenuity, aesthetic beauty, and commitment to creating an environment that honors the history and study of law.”
Topping the list were two buildings from the United Kingdom: The Durham Law School and University of Northumbria’s School of Law. Durham was lauded for its “excellence in sustainable building and its breathtaking views of Durham Cathedral.” Conversely, Northumbria was cited for its “futuristic” funnel-shaped buildings, which “include a central shaft through the building, which provides abundant daylight and reduces the building’s need for interior light fixtures.”
Among American schools, the oft-criticized Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego made the top three, with its new building’s prominence buoyed by stadium-sized seating, outdoor terraces, and LEED Gold certification. By contrast, Los Angeles’ Southwestern Law School, ranked #4, was built inside a 1920’s Art Deco luxury department store, which has been renovated to preserve the building’s period details while adding “garden terraces” and “floor-to-ceiling windows.”
Many of America’s most iconic law buildings also made the top 50, including the University of Michigan’s South Hall (#16), Northwestern’s Levy Mayer Hall (#29), Harvard’s Wasserstein Hall (#30), and Yale’s Sterling Law Building (#48).
Here are the ten most architecturally daring, physically striking, and environmentally conscious law school buildings, according to BestChoiceSchools:
1) Durham Law School, Durham, UK
2. The School of Law, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK
3. Thomas Jefferson School of Law at San Diego, CA
4. Southwestern Law School (Bullocks Wilshire), Los Angeles, CA
5. School of Law, University of Leeds (Liberty Building), Leeds, UK
6. Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
7. William and Mary Law School (Henry C. Wolf Law Library), Williamsburg, VA
8. The School of Law, University of Hertfordshire (Law Court Building), Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK
9. University of Colorado Law School (Wolf Law Building), Boulder, CO
10. University of Iowa College of Law (Boyd Law Building), Iowa City, IA
To see pictures of these 50 architectural masterpieces, click on the link below.
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