Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian by Josh Presley
With the new law school open and many law students happily relocated, what will become of Lamar Hall, the old law school building, is an ongoing debate.
The building will receive a major renovation at an estimated cost of $7 million, department of facilities planning director Ian Banner said. He said that the project will use both state and university money.
Facilities planning hopes to have the building renovated and ready for classes within the next two years.
“Right now, there’s more work than money,” Banner said. “It will be either July or December of 2012. Obviously, July is preferable.”
As far as what will go in the building, Facilities Planning is working with the College of Liberal Arts and the Provost’s office to determine how the building will be used.
Though extensive remodeling is still in the design phase, Banner said Facilities Planning is working on the mechanical and electrical aspects as well as making the building environmentally sound and watertight.
“We’re working to return it to being ready for classes,” Banner said.
One of the plans for the building is to make it more accessible and easier to navigate.
“We’re trying to bring some order,” Banner said. “Right now the building is difficult to get around.”
The old building does have problems that need to be addressed, second year law student Kitty Wood said.
“There is only one elevator. It broke last year, and I think some classes had to be canceled,” Wood said. “Also, it could get pretty hard to find some of the rooms. As far as getting around, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems was that the only way to access the second and fourth floors was through the third floor library.”
Banner said fixes for problems, such as the elevator issue, are in the works.
“We’re going to add two more elevators and a new staircase,” Banner said. “It will help people just get around a lot more easily.”
According to the School of Law Viewbook, Lamar Hall currently contains five large classrooms, two seminar rooms, two moot courtrooms and 121,000 square feet of available space. Banner said they are planning to add two more large classrooms with 90 plus capacity.
Facilities Planning is also looking at adding another food outlet, though they haven’t talked to a vendor yet, Banner said.
Though major things are planned for the building, extensive renovation won’t be easy.
“The original building is a post-tension structure and working with it is very difficult,” Banner said.
According to the Post-Tensioning Institute, post-tension concrete has steel tendons and bars embedded in the concrete itself which makes the structures lighter and more durable but can cause problems in remodeling if the tendons are cut.
“Knocking down a wall is basically like trying to knock down a giant rubber band,” Banner said.
Though there is a lot of work to be done, Banner and his office are enthusiastic about the project and will continue to inform students about the changes being made.
“We’re eager to keep the students up to date with what we’re doing,” Banner said.