Bruner/Cott’s work at the Boston University School of Law includes the comprehensive renovation of the 265-foot law tower, originally designed in the early 1960s by Josep Lluis Sert, and a new 93,000sf classroom addition, the Sumner M. Redstone Building. The renovation stemmed from Bruner/Cott’s 2008 Preservation Master Plan for the 50-year old Sert campus at the heart of BU. As with many buildings of the era, the original Sert tower suffered from complex structural issues, including concrete spalling and failing windows. In addition, the building had never functioned well for its occupants. With large classrooms on the upper floors and only six small elevators for 18 stories, it was difficult to maneuver through the building and it had almost no space for students to congregate.
Phase I of the project, now complete, was the construction of a new five-story addition to hold classrooms, a practice courtroom, meeting rooms, lounge areas, as well as a spacious café overlooking the Charles River. Numerous gathering spaces for study and socialization in the Sumner Redstone Building allow for the collaboration critical to 21st-century legal education. Expressed glass volumes projecting from the smooth limestone skin refer to Sert’s distinctive cantilevers, while the double-story winter garden in the lobby exposes the link between the old and the new buildings. Phase II involves the total gut renovation of Sert’s tower and is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Redstone’s placement eliminated some of the outdoor space that was part of Sert’s original composition, wide outdoor plazas that were often windswept and in shadow. In exchange, the new building features large light-filled indoor counterparts, available to the entire university community and opening directly onto a main pedestrian walkway, re-landscaped to create a more inviting outdoor environment conducive to conversation and connection between students, faculty and staff.