Construction! Construction! Construction! Construction to Enter Final Stage

“Construction! Construction! Construction! Construction to Enter Final Stage”

Law Street Journal Article (10/6/89)

By Randol Schoenberg

The new addition to the law school is expected to be opened up this month—that is if the building passes the upcoming safety inspection. The life safety inspector has already flunked the new building twice, further delaying the 16-month-old construction project, but hopes are high that the third time will be a charm for the Continental Heller Corporation which is overseeing the $9.4 million dollar construction project.

What students will find beyond the blocked passages is a new structure nearly equal in size to the current law school building.

Beginning in the basement, the new addition houses an expansive student lounge, complete with a cafeteria and dressing rooms. There’s space for new lockers too, but due to a mix-up in the University’s procurement office they will only be arriving at the end of this month.

The changing rooms will be the most significant difference from the old student’s lounge, which is now only a faded memory to the third years who once relaxed in it. Vice Dean Jerry Wiley, who is supervising the construction project, says, “the rooms will have benches and mirrors, but beyond that, I’m not confident that I know what to put in those rooms.”

Wiley hopes that students will let him know what they want in the lounge and changing rooms. Just last week someone suggested a make-up table for the women’s dressing room. “We’ve had a building committee for five years and no one had ever suggested a make-up table,” Wiley added somewhat amused. “I think there will be a number of things we’ll identify only after we move in.”

The cafeteria will take the place of the food truck which has been positioned outside the building since 1988. An unconfirmed rumor has it that Fanny, who ably manned the truck last year but has since been relegated to Carl’s Jr., will return to head the new food facility.

The ground floor addition sports two new side entrances and a large foyer. The offices will be playing musical chairs, with the Placement Office and Student Services (102) being moved back to the new wing and the soon-to-be remodeled Deans’ Offices. The Continuing Education Program will move into what is now the Placement Office, and Development and Alumni Affairs will leave their enclaves in Town & Gown for refurbished accommodations in Room 102. The Deans will be moving upstairs to a new suite of offices on the third floor.

The library will be entering a temporary phase, moving completely into the new area so that the old library space can be remodeled. During the interim period entrance to the library will be from the stairs and elevator in the new ground floor lobby.

The arrival of compact shelving on the third floor is sure to attract the most notice from students. According to Dean of the Library Professor Albert Brecht, compact shelving is not a novel idea, but is used to conserve space in a number of libraries including Loyola and Notre Dame Law School. The new shelves will hold 100,000 books, or two sevenths of the Library’s 350,000 book capacity, but will take up relatively little of the 10,000 library floor space.

Compact shelves are stacked one next to the other without any place in between. When a student wants a book he must create an aisle by sliding the shelves apart, a task made possible by a delicate track system which makes the massive shelves glide with very little effort. An electric sweep on the floor of the shelves protects those inside the aisles from being accidentally crushed between the shelves.

Because the compact shelves are manually operated, it may take some time for students to learn which knobs to pull and which wheels to crank in order to gain access to the books they want. Fortunately, the new shelves will house primarily lesser used books, old books and duplicates. During the interim period, however, the compact shelves are filled with some books which will eventually be moved back to the refurbished old library.

The old library will be entirely closed off on both the second and third floors for another three to four months in order to complete remodeling. The work to be done includes carpeting the floors, building a staircase that will be used for access between the library’s two floors, and creating a separate Deans’ Office Suite on the third floor.

Although the library staff will be working in temporarily stations, the library should appear completely operational to students. Nearly all the 240,000 were moved into the new area over the summer and will be directly accessible. 30,000 volumes will remain in storage until the entire library is finally completed in January or February.

The new addition to the library includes 50 additional seats, not including the computer lab, computer classroom, and Lexis-Westlaw room. The computer lab will offer 25 personal computers with 18 more PC’s in the class room. There will be 10-12 Lexis-Westlaw terminals. The computers will be primarily IBMs, which means that many students will have to continue using the business school’s Macintosh facilities to print out their work. Professor Brecht notes that “90% of all law firms use IBM compatible machines. Therefore, because law firms are so heavily into IBM we feel we need to have more IBMs. We’d be a disservice if we had only Macs.”

The new carpet was installed at the request of the students. It should provide for a quieter and warmer studying environment. The main drawback is that the library may need a new policy on food and drink because carpet is more difficult to clean. Brecht says he would like to have student input on the scope of the new rules.

The old circulation desk is being converted into a casual reading room for current newspapers and periodicals, relieving the overcrowding of Campbell Lounge. The temporary circulation area in the new library will eventually be an open reserve room, where students will be able to have direct access to items currently held behind the circulation desk. During the interim period, library acquisitions will be using the future computer lab, and the old lab will be temporarily placed in the new computer classroom. The temporary location of the card catalogue is actually planned to be a future study area, taking advantage of some windows on the south side of the new building.

A number of rooms for the east end of the library will house the offices of the Law Review and Computer Tax Journal, as well as new offices for legal writing instructors. The initial design has been altered at the students’ requests this year at an additional cost of $25,000. Offices on the south end of the new addition will temporarily house library staff and will be used for library projects.

Members of the faculty are eagerly anticipating the opening of the new fourth floor offices. Six faculty members who are now located in Hancock Hall and the few professors who reside on the third floor alcove, will all move into offices on the expanded fourth floor. Wiley expects most of the moves to occur after the end of the semester.

The stairs down to the third floor offices on the northwest corner of the building will be eliminated and that area will be combined with part of the old library to create a spacious Deans’ Office suite, which will be accessible from the old elevator. The library will not be connected to the Dean’s suite.

Both Wiley and Brecht have nothing but praise for the patience of the students through the ordeal of construction. “Everyone seems good humored,” says Wiley, “but they may just be cussing me behind my back—that’s why I wear a hard hat.”

Construction should last for another three to four months although the contractor still says November. Wiley is very optimistic: “My worst fear is February; my hope is December.”