Ratcliff Architecture News

UC Berkeley School of Law Digs Deep To Build New Library - November 10, 2008

Project Designed by the RATCLIFF Architectural Firm Will Address Unprecedented Growth

UC Berkeley School of Law broke ground on an innovative South Pavilion Addition last month, a 52,000-square-foot library and academic building that will accommodate the top-tier law school’s programmatic growth. Architect of the project is RATCLIFF, of Emeryville, CA, who achieved the substantial building size within a modest footprint by placing two of the three building levels below ground. The building site is the law school’s former courtyard and construction will occur over the next two and a half years. The project is anticipated to achieve LEED® Gold certification.

At the same time, the existing Berkeley Law facility will undergo renovation to provide new “smart technology” classrooms, seminar/teaching facilities, and expanded space for student activities.

In the past four years, Berkeley Law (www.law.berkeley.edu) has expanded its faculty by 25 percent, added a number of new research centers, and planned for continued expansion. Through a series of phased renovations and the new addition, RATCLIFF (www.ratcliffarch.com) is assisting the law school to meet the demands of a new generation of students, including access to cutting-edge technology. By January 2009, the existing Boalt Hall building will include a new state-of-the-art distance learning center, newly renovated classrooms including a moot courtroom, student organizations and law journal offices, and new faculty offices.

“We are excited about the new addition that RATCLIFF has designed for us and also pleased with their creative renovations of our existing building,” said Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, Associate Dean for Capital Projects, director of the Law Library, and adjunct professor at UC Berkeley School of Law. “Our students and faculty are going to benefit greatly from having better equipped classrooms, more space for interaction and study, and well designed offices."

The new addition will house highly efficient library stack space and a combination of reading rooms, seminar spaces, computer labs, library staff offices, and collection services in the two light-filled underground levels. Large skylights and open stairways will introduce an inviting environment in the above-grade level, complete with a large classroom flanked by a café that will provide an interactive gathering and study space for students. A second level roof-deck garden above the South Pavilion Addition will provide plenty of outdoor seating with a connection to the library’s main reading room and a footbridge to the Steinhart Courtyard. The newly landscaped east and west entryway courtyards will create a vibrant transition from the complex to Bancroft Way.

A key component of Berkeley Law’s master plan is the relocation of the existing library collections out of the central stack area in Boalt Hall into the lower level of the courtyard addition. This will improve the circulation and flow of the building’s existing levels 4, 5 and 6, which are interrupted by the isolated central stack core. A future phase would convert the existing stack area into clinic and research space. The renovation and construction projects will include improved site circulation and wheelchair accessibility improvements throughout the school and a new outdoor plaza on the western edge of the law school. RATCLIFF has teamed with Lynn Simon & Associates to help meet a goal of LEED Gold certification for the new structure. They will integrate sustainable features into many aspects of the design, including:

  • A green roof to provide a vibrant open space for students, faculty and staff; detain and clean storm water; and insulate the spaces underneath.
  • Low-flow faucets and toilets that will use 40% less fresh water (as compared to the standards of the Energy Policy Act of 1992).
  • Efficient lighting and heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems that will use 30% less energy than the California energy code allows.
  • Wood that will be certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council - the most protective forest certification program in the country.
  • Healthy indoor air quality through increased ventilation strategies, advanced filtration, and the use of low-emitting materials including paints and carpets.
“We are excited to assist Berkeley Law in meeting its strategic goals,” says Joseph Nicola, director of RATCLIFF's academic practice. “In partnership with the university, we are creating the law school of the future, complete with the latest instructional technology and a design that improves the educational experience for students and faculty alike.”