Brick, Mortar, and High-Tech
Posted Aug 1, 2009 8:50 PM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
In an age where law students are more familiar with digital books than bound ones, Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law is spending up to $140 million on two new buildings, including a new law library that is a masterpiece of modern architecture.
The 114,000-square-foot glass-enclosed library, which opened last year, seems to float in snakelike fashion on the school’s main University Park campus. The building—which houses classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, a high-tech courtroom, outdoor terraces and reading gardens—will be digitally linked to another new building under construction on the law school’s second campus in Carlisle.
That building will host upper-level classes that will be video-linked to the University Park campus using technology that will activate microphones and high-definition cameras.
The new buildings are designed to help the school integrate its two campuses, after Penn State’s 2000 merger with Dickinson University’s law school, says Philip McConnaughay, the current dean.
Dickinson has received ABA accreditation as a unitary two-location law school and is part of an ABA pilot program assessing the association’s rules for distance legal education. New York City architectural firm Polshek Partnership Architects designed both buildings.