KPF joined Associate Architect, Sherman Carter Barnhart, and the University of Kentucky for the official ribbon-cutting of its new Law School Building, a modernization and expansion that transforms the program’s physical presence and enhances its role as a social force for education.
Working within the original building from 1965, KPF’s design expands the site area by 26%, growing the school’s state-of-the-art learning facilities and instilling the space with clear wayfinding and a central hub infused with natural light. In addition to 11 new classrooms of varying capacities and 20 collaborative spaces, the project modernizes a 185-seat courtroom for trial training, live appellate court proceedings, and lectures. The upper floor features three flexible classrooms than can transition to a large, multi-use space accommodating up to 400 people, as well as an accessible rooftop terrace for events and spectacular views across campus.
This comprehensive transformation reflects the project’s contextual relationship with the larger UK campus, and in particular, Memorial Hall, the law school’s esteemed neighbor. Materials, such as brick, metal, and glass, show deference to this iconic university symbol. In turn, the school’s white-painted, canopied exterior echoes Memorial Hall’s Corinthian portico, fostering new spaces for social gathering and adding a lively presence to the façade.
“This building — our new home for the College of Law — shows current and future students our commitment to empowering them to excel in the classroom and in careers throughout the Commonwealth and across the globe,” said UK Law Dean David A. Brennen. “Every aspect of this facility — the courtroom and classroom technology; the natural light in the Law Library and throughout the building; the collaboration spaces on every floor — is about preparing our students and enhancing our faculty research to impact Kentucky and the world.”
KPF Principal Doug Hocking comments on the collaborative design process: “This adaptive reuse project embraced the best elements of the old building while realigning its architectural presence with the greater campus community. We relished the opportunity to work so closely with the law school, together proposing a series of strategic moves that transformed the building’s exterior identity, recalled the university’s history, and anticipated the future of its law program.”
KPF Principal Hana Kassem reiterates the project’s influence: “KPF’s vision for the building’s interiors emerged from productive dialogue with the school’s most important stakeholders, its faculty and students. We reimagined its circulation and spatial organization, recognizing the role that these spaces would play in fostering special moments throughout students’ formative learning years. It was a privilege for our team to lead a project that will positively transform people’s educational and vocational experience now and for years to come.”
The University of Kentucky Law School Building is the latest addition to KPF’s broad portfolio of academic work, which encompasses the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania; research facilities at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Centers and the University of Minnesota; and multiple NYU academic buildings, including facilities for its Law School, College of Nursing, Center for Urban Science and Progress, and its existing Shanghai campus. Upcoming institutional projects include the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center for Innovation, NYU’s new Shanghai campus masterplan, then Hong Kong University School of Science and Technology master plan in Guangzhou, China.