The University of Baltimore’s multi-million dollar John and Frances Angelos Law Center officially opened on Tuesday, April 30, following a ribbon cutting and two celebration events that, between them, featured a slew of city and state officials, judicial representatives, Maryland’s Governor, a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and Vice President Joe Biden.
“It’s an exciting time,” said University President Robert L. Bogomolny, citing not only the Center’s opening, but two facts complicit with that: every facet of the law school is now housed under one roof the first time in its history; and the Center is now the first LEED-Platinum law school building in the country.
“This is amazing,” Associate Justice Elena Kagan, also former Dean of Harvard Law school, said during the Center’s Grand Opening Celebration. “Law schools need great buildings to be great.”
The $114 million, all-glass exterior Center was designed by Behnisch Architekten of Stuttgart, Germany, in partnership with Baltimore’s Ayers Saint Gross. With students beginning classes there this summer, the president warned the public will be able to see the building “exploding” with activity at all hours of the day. Fifteen classrooms, a 32,000 square foot law library, faculty and administrative offices, law clinics, conference rooms, study spaces, two cafés, and a moot courtroom now share one structure, a structure intended – through its design – to conjure interaction.
The building resembles a cube that has been fractured into three portions, all of which are connected by a glass atrium. The three major segments of the building are connected by canted bridges and walkways that zigzag in the atrium’s airspace
“It looks like three separate buildings that are somehow connected together,” Neb Sertsu, associate vice president of UB’s Office of Facilities Management and Capital Planning, told the Bar Bulletin last year.
“Buildings create community, and community is what makes people have great ideas,” said Kagan. “You can just tell this [building] is going to foster so much in unexpected interactions.”
To complement its cunning design, the building’s LEED-Platinum status has garnered considerable green amenities. The Center is equipped with 50 miles of tubing running through the entire structure to maintain a controlled temperature. It also exclusively incorporates LED lights, and the building’s digital system is designed to analyze internal temperature against outside variables, like direct sunlight and wind; the system will then accordingly open or close the building’s windows in order to allow as much natural heat or breeze inside as possible. The Center also has four garden terraces, a rainwater harvesting system, and a sunken garden in the lobby.
Sertsu stated last year that the building will operate with 48 percent greater energy efficiency than another building of similar size. And according to Bogomolny, the university estimates $400,000 in energy savings each year.
More than the environmental benefits, the new building is viewed as an “anchor institution for the city, for graduates, and for the neighborhood,” said U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“The men and women who attend and graduate stay in the community, live in the community, and seek justice in the community,” Mikulski continued.
The Center is located in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood and is bound by Charles Street, Mt. Royal Avenue, and the Jones Falls Expressway. The site was formerly a parking lot. Design and construction were funded by a joint public-private venture, and the univserity says that over the last three years, the building has created 1,231 jobs.
Later in the ceremony, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake echoed the Senator’s comments: “When this institution thrives, the whole community thrives.”
This modern building, said Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, at the Center’s Preview Celebration on April 16, “is a modern testament to that hunger and thirst for justice that Marylanders have always had.”
According to the university, alumni account for 30 percent of the state’s circuit court judges, 34 percent of district court judges, and more than a third of Maryland’s elected state’s attorneys.
“Congratulations on this magnificent new edifice,” said Vice President Biden later during the Preview Celebration. “It’s going to train a whole helluva lot of young women and men to be agents of justice.”