When the Class of 2020 convened at the University of South Carolina law school this week, they gathered in a new 187,500-square-foot building. USC School of Law has moved from its former location, a 1970s-era building between Assembly and Main Streets, to what University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides has described as a state-of-the-art structure that “will anchor a new legal corridor in South Carolina and project a modern, sophisticated image which matches our great expectations.”
Although the former building produced such notable alumni as U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham and U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, it was also known for its underwhelming edifice and its lack of windows. “I’ve never known how many students didn’t come because of the old building,” Dean Robert Wilcox told the Charleston “Post and Courier.” “I’m quite certain that none came because of the old building. We have really sent the message that the school has arrived.”
According to Columbia Business Monthly, one improvement in the design of the new building is the close proximity of faculty offices and classrooms. Another improvement is the latest in presentation technology found in the classrooms. “The expectation is the students will engage each other more,” Wilcox says. “A lot of the learning of law comes from the interaction between students.” The new law school building houses courtrooms with sophisticated presentation technology for both instruction and student use.
While the new law school building will offer the latest in collaborative learning opportunities and technology to the future lawyers of South Carolina, many design elements are deeply rooted in past. The bench in the Karen J. Williams Courtroom is the original S.C. Supreme Court bench from the 1870s. The woodwork, bench, and bar in the Judge G. Ross Anderson Jr. Historic Courtroom is from the Richland County Courthouse, built in 1935.
The courtyard features Winnsboro blue granite benches from the Central Correctional Institution, which closed in 1994. The Coleman Karesh Reading Room on the second level of the three-story law school building will feature portraits of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a South Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and Richard T. Greener, USC’s first African-American professor in 1873, according to “The Daily Gamecock.”
While law school students reported to the new building in August, the dedication of the USC School of Law will take place on Thursday, September 24. The Honorable Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, will be the featured speaker. The dedication will further serve to mark the 150th anniversary of the School of Law, which opened in 1867.