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The Campus Explorer: Katz Law Building

The Campus Explorer is a feature of Onward State dedicated to exploring Penn State’s astrologically massive campus. The series will showcase a building or area on campus that doesn’t receive much attention as landmark buildings like the Beaver Stadium or Old Main.

Location of the Katz Law Building

Since it’s groundbreaking ceremony on January 18, 2007, the construction of the 60 million dollar Katz Law Building has left many in wonder due to its high “wow” factor. After architecturally interesting buildings like the IST Building, the Business Building and others have been built in the last 10 years; it is no wonder the Law Building follows the same trend. Located on Bigler Avenue (north of Park Avenue), the Law Building sits between the future site of the arboretum and the IM/Blue Band fields.

The law program at Penn State grew when the Dickinson School of Law partnered with Penn State back in 1997. Because of this merger, the law program functions as a dual campus system. Until the Katz Building was finished, the Beam Building near North Halls had been home to the UP law school. If you have seen the Beam Building, it isn’t exactly what you might call a marvel of architectural wonder. The building was actually a residence hall back in the day.

Faculty and staff from the Dickinson School of Law (at UP) moved into the 113,000 square-foot facility on December 22, 2008. Classes began for law students at University Park on January 5, 2009. The building is graced with a 50 seat courtroom, a 250 seat auditorium as well as a law clinic that will be used for pro-bono legal services. Additionally, an extensive library occupies around 50 percent of the facility.

After the jump, we have an extensive look at the new Katz Law Building.

I am happy to report that the Katz Law Building will be applying to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. The LEED certification is given to buildings that are built with the environment in mind. Like many of the new buildings that have been built in recent years at University Park, the Law Building will utilize a green roof system to facilitate proper drainage as well as to regulate the temperature inside the building.

The building’s architects sought to utilize natural light in a stunning way. In looking at the building (even from the outside), the sheer amount of glass that covers the majority of the exterior of the building is impressive to say the least. The east side of the building (facing towards Beaver Stadium) is marked by an impressive use of glass, steel, brick and other stone. The west side of the staggeringly large building consists of glass and stone to eventually give occupants a delightful view when the arboretum is completed. University press releases have also reported that there is room for future expansion of the newly built structure, or even a totally separate building.

I decided to pay a visit the building on a clear, cold afternoon in early February. Construction was still being done in some parts of the interior of the building, but otherwise the building is completed. Check out the gallery below for some pictures that I took while in the building. One thing that I immediately noticed was that it was very warm. This is no doubt due to the fact that the majority of the exterior is covered in glass, creating a greenhouse effect. The glass is treated with small black dots that help keep some of the heat out and gigantic shades are lowered during the day to block the sun. During my exploration of the building I also found that every single chair occupying the building was extremely comfortable. In fact, if it wasn’t so far away from where I live/have classes, the gorgeous building would be my prime spot for studying.

Initially, I had a hard time finding classrooms. There were plenty of offices, group meeting spaces, library space and open air spaces, but the classrooms remained elusive. When I finally found a classroom, I was treated with a gorgeous 75- person room with full teleconferencing capabilities. Check out this YouTube video that explains the cool technology in the room.

You can see photos of the construction process from January 2007 all the way to November 2008 here. The Office of Physical Plant has a page dedicated to basic information, digital renderings and some pretty cool construction photos- you can find it at this location.

Have classes or work in the Katz Law Building? Please tell us what you think about the new building in the comments section below!

About the Author

Steve S.

Steve Sharer is a Security and Risk Analysis major and an overall good guy. He brings Onward State readers enticing posts such as "Question of the Day" and "Campus Explorer" and will continue to do so until he becomes the President of the United States of America in 2024.

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