ASU law school’s move to downtown Phoenix advances with new building design proposal

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ASU president Michael Crow speaks at the downtown Phoenix campus. University and city officials revealed Wednesday the proposed design of a new law school building in downtown Phoenix, which is set to begin
construction in June 2014 and admit its first students in fall 2016. (Photo by Ally Carr)

University and city officials revealed Wednesday the proposed design of a new law school building in downtown Phoenix, which is set to begin
construction in June 2014 and admit its first students in fall 2016.

The new $130 million building will be the home for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and will be an important new addition to the downtown Phoenix community, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

“I’ve said it once, I’ve said it many times — I believe from the bottom of my heart that the success of Arizona State University and the success of the city of Phoenix are one and the same,” Stanton said.

The city council unanimously supported the project, he said. The council also made the decision to invest $12 million into the project to help ensure that it will be completed.

“We have seen what it has done firsthand to have the Cronkite School and other schools in the heart of the city, and we need to build on that,” he said.

ASU president Michael Crow said in addition to providing better resources for programs, the move downtown will improve the city.

“This is about building a better city, to create a city that is better and more beautiful and more successful than the one that we inherited,” he said.

Crow said the idea for this project is larger than the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, but it is what they are calling the Arizona Center for Law and Society.

The school is designed to be open and accessible to the community where citizens will have access to the law library as well as a new law firm ASU is launching, Crow said.

“It’s more than a law school itself,” he said. “It’s a place for public events. It’s a place for gathering. It’s a place for remembrance about what happens when the rule of law is not followed, when the rule of law is not maintained.”

The facility was conceptualized as not only a school, but a place where people can have open discussions about complex social issues and how they relate to the law, Crow said.

“And in that context we thought the law school should be in this facility also,” he said. “Along with other research centers and academic programs and academic centers and outreach programs and legal aid services and our ASU alumni law firm, all in one place. Open and connectable to the people.”

This new building will make it possible for people other than just students to better understand the law, he said.

“This is a lot more than just a building,” Crow said. “And it is a lot more than just a law school.”

Having schools in downtown Phoenix gives students many opportunities, Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski said.

“To me, this makes a lot of sense to have a law school right here in downtown Phoenix where all these top law firms are,” he said. “Where we have our local courts and our federal courts where these students can become interns for our court systems in downtown Phoenix.”

 

Reach the reporter at akcarr@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @allycarr2