Seeking to maximize the utilization and efficiency of their existing facility, Northeastern School of Law engaged Sasaki to conduct a program study as part of a conceptual master plan for its campus. Sasaki then executed the proposed program for renovation and additions. The goals for the project were to improve the facility as a means to recruit top tier students, create a new front door and central gathering space, reflect a non-hierarchical, mission-directed institution focused on community outreach, and upgrade building systems, infrastructure, and aesthetics.
Sasaki converted an 110,000-square-foot gymnasium facility into community outreach clinic space, a moot courtroom, case method classrooms in a variety of sizes, seminar rooms, faculty offices, and student social space. To create a clear front door and strong identity for the school with minimal changes to the building's footprint, Sasaki added a multi-level glassy entry with strong yet simple signage. The open stairway and lobby are welcoming and professional. The open stairs also increase visibility, and the infusion of color breaks up the gray façade conveying a strong, contemporary brand.
The main level of Dockser Hall contains the two most important program elements that express the mission and values of Northeastern Law School: the moot courtroom and the community legal services clinic. The courtroom and offices are carefully configured in a space that is warm and welcoming yet conveys a sense of dignity and timelessness.
A central student lounge anchors the lower level. The furnishings are comfortable and flexible. Horizontal wood screens define the space without conveying isolation or confinement. The color palette is warm and vibrant. This design approach was also carried into the lounges along window walls on the upper floors.
Careful planning of the circulation allows full and complete use of the soaring ceiling heights. The tall windows provide copious natural light and campus connection, while mechanized blackout shades darken the room for audiovisual presentations. The podium, controls, and classroom work walls are standardized throughout so that faculty feel comfortable teaching in any room. The existing wood gymnasium floor was reused at the base of each classroom. The palette works with the existing light oak to create bright spaces that support leading educational delivery systems.
The renovated space was certified LEED® NC 2.2 Gold for its extensive reuse of building materials and resource reduction strategies. The project retained 95% of the building's structure, heavily repurposed building materials in the final design, and diverted 96% of onsite construction waste from landfills. Effective use of daylighting and sunshading and energy-efficient MEP systems—created as a combination of new and reused technology—reduced energy costs by 17.8%. Low-flow faucets in restrooms helped to reduce potable water use by 49%.
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