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Law school to graduate into new building

The UW School of Law celebrates its centennial today with a groundbreaking for a new building on the UW campus. The ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the future location of the William H. Gates Hall -- currently the N1 parking lot.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Gov. Gary Locke, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley and newly appointed UW Law Dean Dr. Joe Knight Jr. are some of the dignitaries who will attend the groundbreaking. The event will be presided over by UW President Richard McCormick and outgoing School of Law Dean Roland Hjorth. Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, is a prominent alum of the UW School of Law.

The groundbreaking and centennial celebration will continue with a speech by Bill Gates at 10:30 a.m. in Meany Hall and conclude with a gala event at the Washington State Convention Center later in the evening.

The new 196,000 square foot building is one-third larger than Condon Hall, the current location of the School of Law. The size will accomodate all programs of the school to be under one roof for the first time in 30 years.

There are many benefits to this centralized location, said Paula Littlewood, assistant dean of the School of Law. She said it would enhance the ability of students and faculty members to work together. In addition, it will enhance the collaboration with other programs at the UW.

The School of Law's current location has been unable to facilitate the increasing demand for a legal education. Condon Hall, on Northeast Campus Parkway, opened in 1974 and has born the burden of being the state's only public law school since.

Condon Hall's current library is divided among seven floors, including the basement. In addition, classrooms are not equipped with central computers or enough electrical outlets. The new building will rectify these problems.

"In designing the building it was considered vital to expose and introduce technology to students," said Tiffany Cramer, director of computing services at the School of Law.

The new building will have central computers with projection capabilities and every seat in each classroom will have data ports and electrical outlets for laptops.

According to Cramer, many of the technology decisions will not be made until most of the building is complete. This flexibility will enable the school to purchase the newest technology when it moves into the building in two years.

The new library will be a fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and will allow for considerable additions to student workspace and to the book collection.

Kohn Pederson Fox of New York and the Seattle-based Mahlum Architects designed the building, and Lease Crutcher Lewis of Seattle was hired as the contractor. The law school is expected to occupy the building in 2003.

In the end, the building will cost $80 million. This includes everything from furniture to building permits. Funding is being provided by a partnership between public sector and the private sector.

The public share will be provided by the revenue earned from 10 acres of UW-owned property in downtown Seattle.

The $34 million in private funding has come from numerous donations ranging in size from $50 to the $12 million donated by Bill and Melinda Gates.

The UW hopes to reuse Condon Hall as surge space after the School of Law has moved. Surge space is used for temporary relocation of programs, classes and offices while other buildings are being renovated or replaced.

According to Colleen Pike, principal higher education facilities planner, there is currently no other temporary space on campus, and the opening of Condon Hall would allow the renovations of Johnson and Guggenheim halls to proceed.

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