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University of Utah Holds Grand Opening Ceremony for New State-of-the Art Law School Building

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law announced a new initiative this week to reach a goal of 100 percent bar passage and 100 percent professional employment placement among its law school graduates.

A new building that houses the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah was dedicated this week at a ceremony attended by more than 900 dignitaries, community members and students.(JB Wagner)

The announcement by S.J Quinney College of Law Dean Robert Adler came at the grand opening ceremony for the University of Utah’s newest building on campus, a state-of-the art law school designed to enhance innovation in legal education, bolster community service and provide students with new opportunities for skills training.

Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch joined University of Utah President David W. Pershing and Adler in dedicating the facility. Other dignitaries also attended the dedication of the building.

Adler said the initiative builds on the law school’s already high bar passage rate of 90 percent and professional employment rate of 92 percent —numbers that are significantly higher than other national averages across the country among law students.

“Our students deserve no less,” said Adler. “This initiative will be backed up by very concrete strategies to give students every opportunity and every tool to succeed.”

Adler said the law school will find every law student a practicing lawyer mentor through its mentor U program as part of the 100/100 initiative. Students will also have access to new incubator programs and rural lawyer placement to help graduates connect with employment opportunities in underserved communities. An intensive student-faculity learning opportunity for every student through one-on-one or small group work will also be happening more at the law school, Adler said.

He noted affordability is also part of the 100/100 goal, so students can focus on studying and graduate with less debt. The law school recently funded at $1.4 million endowment to fund scholarships for environmental law students and new scholarship funds to honor law school alumni.

The law school’s impressive facility will help to lead U students into a new future as they pursue a legal education, said Pershing.

“This new, sustainable home for the S.J. Quinney College of Law is the embodiment of the exceptional and innovative education that will be offered within its walls. It will facilitate additional clinical programs, experiential learning, collaborative research and community engagement, while providing an impressive gateway to the U campus,” said Pershing. “We are grateful and excited for this stunning new resource at the University of Utah.”

The grand opening of the building recognized the completion of the building, which has been under construction for two years. It is designed to be a LEED platinum building, an acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The designation is awarded to buildings that meet standards of being green efficient in their design. The U’s law school is the first on the west coast designed to earn such a designation.

The Alternative Visions Fund of the Chicago Community Trust, a longtime supporter of the Stegner Center, provided $4.5 million towards the purchase of sustainable building infrastructure. As a result of this generous support, the College has been able to incorporate sustainability features that will serve as examples to other building projects on the campus of the University of Utah, the Salt Lake community, and the nation.

These features and methods include:

  • A building designed with the goal of achieving 65 percent reduction in energy costs beyond code requirements through smart structural design and passive solar orientation.
  • Investments in onsite solar power generation, and maximum use of natural light.
  • Chilled beam cooling and heating systems, utilization of irrigation well water for the source of cooling, and highly efficient fixtures.
  • Recycling and re-using grey water for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets.
  • The building will also incorporate passive energy strategies that reduce overall energy consumption through the performance of the building:
  • Enhanced exterior insulation to reduce thermal conductivity.
  • Fixed exterior sunshades to minimize solar heat gain during the summer.
  • Exterior overhangs that also act as sunshades to reduce the building heat gain in the summer.
  • Low emissivity, insulating glass to reduce thermal transmittance and glare while improving visible light transmittance. Windows in the building will employ biomimickry to prevent bird collisions. Biomimickry creates ultraviolet spider web designs that are visible to birds but not humans.
  • In addition, the building will also achieve energy savings through the integration of more efficient energy-using systems including:
  • The chilled beam HVAC system to heat and cool the building, radiant floor heating and cooling to supplement the chilled beam system.
  • A heat recovery system to transfer the heat from the exhausted conditioned air into the fresh ventilation air.
  • Regenerative elevators to convert the excess energy generated by an elevator into electricity that can be used elsewhere in the building.
  • Enhanced lighting system control that include occupancy sensors and daylight sensors.
  • The building has already garnered two awards for its innovative features. Lead architect Sean Thompson of the VCBO/Smith Group architecture team received a Community Justice Award from the Disability Law Center for the building’s universal accessibility design. Energy engineer Steve Connor from Coleman Engineering was also a finalist for the Governor’s energy innovation award for its unique use of groundwater to help air condition the building using groundwater from a campus well.

Besides its environmental merits, the new building will be used to expand the college’s already substantial commitment to community service and community-engaged learning. University of Utah law students provided almost 40,000 hours of volunteer pro bono and clinical service during the 2014-15academic year. The new building will enable the school to continue this tradition by providing facilities for direct client interaction.

“Legal education is increasingly moving in the direction of applied, hands-on learning,” said Adler. “We have been a leader in that area for many years, but this new facility will allow us to build on that excellence with dedicated simulation training facilities, room for our service learning programs, and cutting edge technology for skills training.”

The $62.5 million building will provide accessibility for people with a full range of disabilities. Located at the southwest corner of campus across from the Stadium TRAX station, the building will establish a welcoming gateway for visitors to the campus.

“Alumni, students, and the community are thrilled about the beautiful new building for the College of Law, and are particularly proud of the sustainability efforts put into its LEED design,” said Michele Ballantyne, president elect of the S.J. Quinney College of Law Alumni Board of Trustees. “The one-of-a-kind classrooms, study, and program areas will provide an atmosphere where the students can thrive and the college’s programs can flourish and become even more visible nationally.”

The building has received generous support from the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the University of Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Alternative Visions Fund of the Chicago Community Trust as well as a growing number of law firms and individual donors.

Big-D Construction completed work on the 155,000-square-foot building.

At this week's grand opening ceremony, Gov. Herbert and Sen. Hatch praised the University of Utah and the S.J. Quinney College of Law for preparing the state’s future legal community.

“What this university is producing … is a significant blessing to the state,” said Herbert.

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