Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law marked its 175th anniversary with the opening of its new 114,000 sq ft Lewis Katz Building.
The focal point of the Lewis Katz Building is its glass-enclosed H. Laddie Montague Jr. Law Library with a volume capacity of 100,000 and seating for 294 students. The architecture draws from the idea that the law library is the theoretical and physical heart of the legal educational experience. As the center in which students spend much of their time, the library is conceived as a floating element, sheltered from the rest of the school’s program beneath. The ground plane flows unimpeded, linking interior and exterior space to foster the feeling of openness and accessibility emblematic of the school’s goals.
“The sinuous building form is a direct response to the presence of the surrounding mountains and geology of the valley,” says the architect. “The curving library is clad in glass to create a constantly changing backdrop of reflected sunlight throughout the day and a beacon of light at night.”
The Lewis Katz Building was constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements, utilizing numerous sustainable initiatives and local and recycled materials throughout its design. From its continuous planted green roof to its reintroduction of pervious surfaces on what was a massive parking lot, the building helps reduce the amount of rainwater runoff generated by the site. To reduce its energy consumption, the building maximizes its use of natural day lighting in public spaces as its mechanical systems allow for operable windows and individual climate control in most of its individual offices.
Additional building features include the 250-seat Greg Sutliff Auditorium; a courtroom equipped with the latest in trial technology; four 75-person classrooms; several intimate seminar rooms; legal clinic and student organizations suites; and outdoor terraces and reading gardens.
Architect : Richard Olcott (Polshek Partnership Architects)