Steel Shots: Legal Lessons

The facility’s signature V-column supports the five stories above it. The angle of each leg of the column was determined by equalizing the horizontal thrust forces resulting from dead loads transferred from the columns above. 

The first woman nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States now has her name on a law school in the city and state that launched her to national prominence.

The new Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will expand Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus with a modern facility that connects students and faculty to the existing Phoenix legal community. The location couldn’t be more fitting, as O’Connor served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona, the Arizona State Senate, on the Maricopa County Superior Court and also on the Arizona State Court of Appeals.

The 280,000-sq.-ft steel-framed building will include classrooms, offices, research clinics, a law library, a public cafe, a bookstore, the ASU Alumni Law Group and below-grade parking; these program spaces are configured in six stories above grade and two below. Prominent architectural features include stacked double height spaces located in the heart of the building, a 250-seat auditorium with a retractable seating system and façade system on level 1, the law library on level 3 and a shaded exterior roof courtyard on level 5. An indoor/outdoor continuous circulation track at each level connects the east and west portions of the building with pedestrian bridges, and a canyon-inspired outdoor pedestrian promenade traverses through the site at level 1, providing sight lines into interior spaces and a public face to the law school.

The design was completed within one year to meet an aggressive fast-track schedule, with construction beginning in the summer of 2014 and being substantially completed last month. A steel structure was the ideal solution to meet programmatic requirements for long-span, column-free interior spaces that maximize the clear floor-to-floor height.

Approximately 1,750 tons of structural steel in the form of approximately 3,000 members is used above grade. The structural steel design features suspended outdoor pedestrian bridges linking the building across the “canyon,” a sloped exterior V-column supporting five stories above and a roof diaphragm truss to support a fabric canopy shading system over the courtyard.

To learn more about the project, see the article “Legal Lessons” in our current July issue (available now!).