The UW School of Law’s building, William H. Gates Hall, was completed in 2003. Less than a decade later, the administration realized their building was falling behind staff and student expectations for a modern 21st century law school facility. More inviting and transparent interior spaces were needed. Given the relative youth of the building and the current economic realities of state budget cuts, the school chose to meet its changing needs with incremental renovations and updates.
We partnered with the UW School of Law leadership team to craft a flexible and responsive Master Facilities Plan. The plan is an evolving working document, a series of improvement projects that will assist UW School of Law in keeping current with its Mission Statement. These improvements are generally independent of each other and can be implemented over time as student and faculty priorities dictate and as funds become available.
One of the first priorities was to create a shared, dedicated work zone for use by the many student organizations. Until now, student groups made do with borrowed and disconnected work space. We repurposed a section of the library to serve as a single open “co-work” area. Students now enjoy cost savings through shared resources and exciting new ideas and partnerships through “creative collisions” of group members. For the school, this type of space models the reality of the modern offices in which these students will one day work; the space itself is educational.
Currently we are working on implementing two more pieces of the master plan. One is to improve and expand the intensively used collaborative work spaces of the student edited Law Journals. The second is to create a central location for the center for Public Service Law that will allow that organization a more visible presence in the building and reinforce the Law School’s mission of service.