ASU Law named No. 2 'Best Law School Building' in the nation
Honor comes after first-time nomination; building also receives LEED Gold certification
In the National Jurist’s Spring 2020 issue of preLaw, ASU Law's home — the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus — was named the No. 2 “Best Law School Building” in the nation.
Securing the other top spots were the University of Memphis at No. 1 and Stetson University at No. 3. This was the first time ASU Law's home was nominated.
The building accomodates about 300 events a year by outside organizations, bringing in judges, attorneys and politicians, which helped place it as No. 2 in preLaw’s biannual list of Best Law School Buildings.
“The driving principle was to bring in outside organizations to expose students to how law operates in the real world,” Dean Douglas Sylvester told preLaw. “And second, to bring the local community into the buildings. These are access to justice organizations, so you have people from all walks of life coming into the buildings.”
According to the preLaw article, the school’s Great Hall has a massive, 40-foot-by-60-foot glass wall with a folding glass door that unifies indoor and outdoor space and allows the hall to act as the public’s legal living room. A retractable seating system allows the Great Hall to be converted into a more formal auditorium configuration.
Other features include:
- A study lounge on the top floor with lockers, pingpong tables and even showers.
- Large digital screens in the lobby that allow students to look up their class schedules and let prospective students learn about various courses of study.
- Expansive windows that give a good view of street life, and large display screens — visible from across the street — that share information about school events or show law-related news events, such as the impeachment hearings.
"This is a special place that is accomplishing things that few others have been able to accomplish,” Sylvester said.
The six-story, 280,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Beus Center for Law and Society was conceived and developed with openness to the public in mind, as a unique urban environment where society and the study and practice of law converge.
The Snell & Wilmer Plaza creates an inviting, engaging, and accessible pathway for people to connect. Also known as the Canyon, the site opens to Taylor Mall at the heart of the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The area is evocative of sandbars in a canyon floor as a café and lobby spill open to lush planters and seating areas with platforms for events.
The Beus Center for Law and Society offers many places for students to connect, study and socialize. The fifth floor “green” courtyard features a balance of event space flanked with trees in raised planters, a community table and both fixed and moveable seating.
The landscape respects and celebrates the regional character of the Sonoran Desert. The south end of the plaza highlights a lush, sunken garden naturally irrigated by surface run-off to support vegetation and contribute to recharging the local aquifer.
The law library and reading room are unconventionally configured to be without borders or thresholds: stacks and study spaces extend to the upper levels along all circulation paths, promoting informal intellectual and social interchange between students, faculty and visitors.
The building features technology to help people navigate the building and nearby areas, learn more about the law school and other occupants, and to keep a pulse on trending legal topics and events. Central to that task is a Nano Display facing Taylor and First streets, seen here with students as they navigate the building.
The Beus Center for Law and Society offers several areas for students to study and socialize, including a coffee shop and sixth-floor student lounge and lobby, pictured here.
The W. P. Carey Foundation Armstrong Great Hall unifies the indoor and outdoor space and allows the hall to act as the public’s legal living room. An innovative retractable tiered seating system allows the space to be converted from a socially dynamic arrangement to a more formal auditorium configuration, providing flexibility while offering a unique space to the downtown Phoenix community.
The Beus Center for Law and Society, home to ASU Law, was named the No. 2 “Best Law School Building” in the nation.
LEED Gold certification
The Beus Center for Law and Society also received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in May, four years after building completion.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across the following metrics: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Gold certifications are given to buildings that score between 60-79 points. The center received a score of 61 due to the following sustainable and energy efficient features:
- Configuration of the main building facade designed to change in response to solar orientation.
- High-efficiency HVAC system that includes chilled beams and airfloor heating/cooling.
- Lighting system is 100% LED, with daylighting and occupancy controls contributing to a low-energy lighting design.
- Desert-adaptive plants in the building landscaping.
- More than 75% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills.