When UC Law SF’s new academic building opens for business in 2020, it will be more than just a building where students go to listen to lectures. Its completion will mark the first phase in the law school’s comprehensive vision to expand and update its academic, student life and residential facilities to meet the needs of the next wave.

That vision took a major step forward in February, as construction workers hoisted the building’s highest steel beam in place in a symbolic ceremony known as “topping out.”

Chancellor and Dean David Faigman shared his vision for an Academic Village to a crowd of about 100 UC Law SF representatives, San Francisco civic leaders, and local community members who gathered atop the UC Law SF parking garage to observe the ceremony.

“This is the first domino; this is the first step,” Faigman told the crowd.

The placement of the steel beam was a celebration of a dream come true, said Hani Alawneh, lead contractor for Clark Construction San Francisco.”We’re witnessing the dream of a new academic building. A dream of an urban campus,” he said.

Michael Duncan, partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the architecture firm designing the new academic building, reveled in the milestone, noting the months of hard work workers put in to reaching the top of the building.

“This building seeks to reposition and re-imagine UC Law SF and transform the traditional law school experience by creating teaching spaces, inspirational informal interactions and collaboration spaces among students, faculty and staff,” he said. “This is a building that will celebrate UC Law SF’s unique role in San Francisco, provide a new quad as the heart of the campus, and a welcoming new face on Golden Gate Avenue.”

UC Law SF announced plans for the new building at 333 Golden Gate in October 2015, saying it will bolster the law school’s existing partnership with UC San Francisco (UCSF), increase its capacity to train lawyers, and deepen the relationship with the Tenderloin neighborhood.

“The idea started with the generosity of the State of California, the Legislature and the governor that appropriated $55 million to construct the building,” Faigman said. “From our many very generous alumni that donated the $3 million needed to build out the quad and the sky bridge, and that was the first step in the dominoes that are going to build this Academic Village.”

Mary Noel Pepys, an alumna who sits on the law school’s Board of Directors, called the new academic building “a center of excellence.”

“This will become a center where our law students can excel and become lawyers in a global economy,” Pepys said, noting the law school’s commitment to the Tenderloin, Civic Center and mid-Market neighborhoods.

The six-story, $58 million Platinum LEED building will accommodate smart classrooms, conference rooms, and shared community spaces for students, faculty, and alumni. The rooftop of the building will feature a sky deck—with views of City Hall and the San Francisco skyline—that will serve as a community event space. Additionally, the building will provide greater space for the law school’s premier legal clinics as well as its roster of academic centers.

Once 333 Golden Gate is open, work will begin on several additional modernization projects that will make up UC Law SF’s Academic Village. In 2020, development will begin at 198 McAllister and 50 Hyde streets, where the existing four-story building will be razed and re-developed into a 14-story complex that will house students from both UC Law SF and UCSF. It will also become the new home of the Tenderloin’s YMCA. This project will be followed up with a renovation and structural upgrade to the law school’s iconic Tower Building at 100 McAllister Street.

The projects are all currently on schedule.

“By around 2024 or 2025, we will have built out, all the way down the block. We’ll have deeper and greater partnerships with UCSF and other University of California campuses, greater relationships with the City and County of San Francisco and the State of California and other national institutions,” Faigman said.

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