Project DescriptionThe recently completed Georgia State University College of Law building was designed to transform and encourage flexible learning environments. With a core mission of nurturing community engagement, student learning and the demands of a modern legal education, the new building’s design promotes engagement and collaboration, and will be the university’s first LEED facility.
As the Architect of Record, Stevens & Wilkinson, an architecture, engineering and interior design firm based in Atlanta and Columbia, S.C., provided architecture and engineering design services for the new Georgia State University College of Law building, in downtown Atlanta.
Stevens & Wilkinson’s project team conceptualized and executed the design development for the exterior skin of the building as well as implemented the architecture and engineering to provide large assembly spaces, including a 230-seat moot courtroom and auditorium; an international arbitration center; and a 200-seat flexible-use conference center. The firm’s plan also involved large classrooms and seminar rooms designed to seat a variety of class sizes.
Primary objectives for the project included supplying much needed classrooms and state-of-the-art learning space. The College of Law Building was designed for collaboration, content sharing and group learning. It quickly has become the heart of Georgia State University and a gathering place for both internal and external communities.
Stevens & Wilkinson wrote the specifications based upon a design plan provided by SmithGroupJJR, which implemented the design and programming verification, benchmarking, and design concepts for the building envelope. Along with design-partner Harris+Smith and builder McCarthy Building Companies, the project team collaborated to design and deliver a leading-edge building of individual and joint learning that also offers students, faculty and staff all the customary amenities necessary for institutional excellence.
Emphasizing Georgia State University’s vision, “The new building is integral to the College of Law’s commitment to provide an excellent legal education to a diverse student body, to promote legal scholarship and service, and to capitalize on its unique Atlanta environment,” says Ron Stang, AIA, LEED AP, chairman and a principal of Stevens & Wilkinson’s Atlanta office.
The completed building features highlights such as a three-story public gathering space in the lobby; a two-story active learning space; and reading and study rooms adjacent to an outdoor garden terrace on the sixth floor.
Learning with United Leadership
The lower levels consists of a moot courtroom and auditorium, including audio / visual devices and screens for students to watch their moot court performances following learning exercise sessions; a conference center for catering and events; learning commons, designed as a multi-use hub and the main organizational space in the building; and skills suite, including three courtrooms with breakout and deliberation space for simulation and experimental learning.
A mirrored layout of learning spaces, meeting areas and faculty offices was the concept for the second and third levels. These academic floors consist of large classrooms and seminar rooms with adaptive learning settings and meeting spaces, commons, and support spaces for faculty. The fourth floor comprises dedicated spaces for administrative and organizational purposes, for both faculty members and students.
“The design setup is intended for content sharing for speakers, with cameras and advanced audio / visual equipment for learning and technology conveniences,” says Stang. “Built-in stairs connect the two floors, keeping these two similar levels of the building unified yet easily functional as separate spaces when needed.”
Beacon of Light and Learning
The law building’s library sits on the fifth and sixth levels, which is the largest part of the overall concept. The library is made available only for Georgia State University law students, and is designed with a variety of environments, such as study rooms, café’s, classrooms, and an alumni reading room.
It was designed to sit atop the building as a lit beacon, establishing a civic institutional identity, among large Atlanta office towers. “The law library includes a high-density, compact storage system for accessibility and preservation as well as conference and library workrooms,” explains Stang. Its glass box design style acts as an exterior expression for the entire building and equates to absolute quiet reading and study just a few floors above city streets.
The sixth and top level includes an exterior garden terrace with native plantings and an interior reading room with a view overlooking the library and adjacent Woodruff Park. Study and reading rooms were conceptualized to flank instructional technology and lab review rooms available to students. To provide security and safety for the building at large, Stevens & Wilkinson engineered access control, turnstile systems, close circuit TV, and fire-rated glass.
For the new College of Law’s current 646 students, architectural and engineering design expresses aspects of leadership, learning and scholarship as independent building forms woven around a central collaboration space for the next generation of lawyers, judges and others who will study, develop and apply law in the future.
Supplemental Project Information:
College of Law
Georgia State University
• 205,000 square feet
• Seven stories
• Project Completion: June 2015
• Construction Cost: $66,000,000.
• 55 faculty offices and faculty meeting room
• 850-seats in tiered lecture and seminar-style classrooms
• Three skills suites
• 230-seat moot courtroom and auditorium
• Student organization spaces
• Law library with 400 reader seats and conference workrooms
• 200-seat flexible-use conference and event space with catering kitchen
• Active learning areas with food service
• Atlanta Center for International Arbitration and Mediation
• Three-story community gathering space
• Legal clinics
• Dean’s offices
About Stevens & Wilkinson: Founded in 1919, Stevens & Wilkinson is a full-service architecture, engineering and interior design firm committed to providing clients with “Smart Design Solutions.” The firm’s combined design capabilities equate to projects executed with creative, innovative, and holistic design solutions. To learn more: www.stevens-wilkinson.com.