New law building construction continues

North of Woodruff Park, on the corner of John Wesley Dobbs Ave. and Park Place, the new Law building is currently being constructed and is expected to be completed by 2015. A full construction schedule was posted on the College of Law’s webpage on Sept. 30, 2013.

“Now that we’ve officially broken ground on the new building, it’s time to look forward to the rest of the process. We’ve received a tentative construction schedule with important milestones,” the website says.

September and November’s milestones in 2013 were “Earthwork and Excavation” and “Begin Foundation Work.” This upcoming May and October’s will be “Structural ‘Top Out'” and “Complete Skin.” By March 2015 the final milestone will be “Complete Rough-in and Fit Out.”

Currently, McCarthy Building Co. has a construction-update Twitter account for the new college of law called @GSULawConstruction.

On Jan. 13, McCarthy Building Co. tweeted, “Welcome back GSU College of Law students! in 2015 you’ll be able to move into your beautiful new home.”

This tweet was followed by another posted on Jan. 16 that referred to building other portions of the building after layers of concrete were poured.

“GSU Law is elevating at a whole new level,” the company said.

The College of Law’s official website is also working on an interactive option for viewers to take a virtual tour of the building. Currently individuals have the option of viewing building feature photos and a map.

New Law Building Under construction Near Woodruff Park
New law building under construction near Woodruff Park

Overseeing the progress

Christopher “Chip” Hill is the Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance at the College of Law. Mr. Hill said that he and Professor Doug Yarn are the co-chairs of the building committee for the College of Law.

“This means that we are in the vast majority of the meetings with all of the other entities who have input on the project. We represent the college’s interests as the ultimate end-users and consult with our dean, faculty, staff, students and alumni to gather feedback on how we want the building to look, feel and operate,” Hill said.

Hill also said that the contractor McCarthy has done most of the excavation and shoring, also known as “prop” work for the building.

“By Friday, the contractor should finish pouring all of the foundation slabs of concrete. The structural columns have been set, and over the next four months, the concrete and steel skeleton of the building will rise out of the ground,” Hill said.

He added that the new Law building will have a total of seven stories, including an underground floor and six above ground. He explained that the framing for all of the floors will be completed by the end of May, and that the next ten months will be dedicated to both interior and exterior work necessary to finish the building.

“Construction should be complete by early March 2015. At that point, we will have a handful of weeks to coordinate the installation of the information technology and audio-visual equipment and furniture. Our goal is to have that done by the end of April 2015, which would allow us to move in early May 2015, and teach our summer 2015 classes in the new building,” Hill said.

High Expectations

Hill added that there is excitement among the College of Law faculty, staff, students, alumni, the legal community, the City of Atlanta and State of Georgia.

He explained that the building has been a work in progress for nearly a decade, and that the new space will provide Law students with a much better experience, both in and out of the classroom, because it will foster interaction between faculty and students in a way that the Urban Life Building could not.

“We are really excited that all of the effort is so close to fruition. Many people have helped us get to this point. We are grateful to the State of Georgia, City of Atlanta, Board of Regents and the Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission for their guidance and support,” Hill said.

“Many departments throughout the university have been with us every step of the way, and we have a great team of architects, designers and contractors who are turning ideas into reality. Our alumni, students, friends, faculty and staff have provided invaluable support.”

He also said that he and the College of Law hope that when they open the doors to the new Law building, everyone will take pride in their new home, as well as use the facility to help Georgia State provide “one of the best programs of legal education in the nation.”

Making it happen

Between the years of 1982 and 2006, student enrollment and faculty stretched the usable space in the Urban Life Building, according to the Georgia State Law Magazine.

In May of 2007, students raised $5,300 in support of the new law building, and Governor Deal and the Georgia General Assembly allocated $5 million dollars in the fiscal year 2011 state budget in the spring of 2010. By fall of 2010, the University purchased the current lot and Georgia State Law administrators and faculty began designing with SmithGroup and Stevens & Wilkinson.

State allocations provided $58.8 million dollars, according to Global Atlanta. This and a grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation made construction possible.

However, on the Georgia State Law website it says that the College of Law
still needs help through donations to ensure that needed equipment and furnishings are provided.

“Alumni support is critical to the College of Law,” the website says. “Gifts to fund for Law support our programs and scholarships, ensuring we provide the best programs possible and attract the most qualified J.D. candidates,” the College of Law website says.

Donations and pledges range from $50 dollars to $10,000 dollars. Individuals wishing to donate also have the option of choosing their own amount.

“During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the college enjoyed 71 percent participation from the Law Firm Campaign and 21 percent overall participation rate from our alumni,” said Senior Director of Development John Harrison on the College of Law website. It also states that the College of Law hopes to reach 25 percent.

New additions

Some features in thew new Law building will include a ceremonial courtroom equipped with 230 seats, a conference center, an International Arbitration Center and different areas for community outreach and clinical practices.

“The Law Library will occupy the top two floors and offer flexible learning space for individuals, groups, classes and guests, as well as a formal reading room, a café and outdoor terraces,” the College of Law website says.

According to Georgia State Law Magazine’s “Guide to Our New Building,” the entrance will be located on the corner of John Wesley Dobbs Ave. and Park Place for convenient access. The lobby and atrium will promote greater student interaction, and the law library that will be featured on the top two floors will allow for flexible work areas.

“The new building provides a unique opportunity to become an intellectual and professional hub that encourages education, interaction and synergy among students, alumni, the university community, members of the bench and bar, legislators and policymakers and nonprofit organizations dedicated to service advocacy,” said Steven Kaminshine in Georgia State Law Magazine’s article “New Building Taking Shape” by Emily C.B. Diffenderfer.

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