Law School Wins Prestigious Urban Land Institute Award for Expansion

The renovation project that greatly expanded facilities and student space at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago has been awarded the 2014 Urban Land Institute Chicago Vision Award.

John Marshall’s extensive renovation – which expanded the school by 50,000 square feet – won top accolades in the project category.

In order for a project to qualify for a Vision Award, the project must be located within the nine-county Chicago region and must achieve a high standard of excellence in all areas: design, construction, economics, marketing and management. Award nominations are then reviewed by a jury composed of Urban Land Institute Chicago members who are recognized leaders in their field.

“We are honored that this prestigious group has acknowledged our school and, therein, our dedication to the Chicago legal community,” Dean John E. Corkery said. “Our administration worked, and continues to work hard with our architects and contractors to create inviting, innovative spaces in which our students can learn and succeed.”

John Marshall’s campus expansion began in 2011. The project converted more than 3,600 square feet of first-floor retail space into a new student commons, cafeteria and main entrance onto Chicago’s iconic State Street. The new entrance is set off by a glass canopy and students walk into an expansive entryway. A specially designed glass and steel staircase off the lobby gives students access to the renovated student lounge area on the second floor.

General contractor Bulley & Andrews LLC performed the renovation work designed by architectural firm Griskelis Young Harrell Architects, both of Chicago.

“Our expansion not only provides needed space but gives the law school the image and presence it deserves, right in the middle of State Street’s South Loop Education Corridor,” said Jordan H. Peters, a partner in Freeborn & Peters LLP and the chairman of the building committee of John Marshall’s Board of Trustees.

The renovation included the creation of the clinical and classroom space for the school’s Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic (VLSC). After meticulous research, that space was designed specifically to meet the needs of veterans who might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“When we design using PTSD as a filter, you can see the areas that you have to alter because they might create a sense of discomfort and stress,” said Chad Harrell of Griskelis Young Harrell. In designing the space, his firm researched on PTSD-accessible designs, and “endeavored to design an environment that eliminated potential PTSD stimuli and aspired to create a calming, safe, secure place.”

The Urban Land Institute began the Awards for Excellence program in 1979 with the objective of recognizing truly superior development efforts. The criteria for the awards include factors that go beyond good design, including leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, and response to societal needs. Winning projects represent the highest standards of achievement set by members of the Urban Land Institute.

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