The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
The Law Quadrangle

The four buildings comprising the Law Quadrangle: the Lawyers Club, the John P. Cook Dormitory, the Legal Research Building, and Hutchins Hall, were constructed during the decade 1923-33 on two city blocks purchased by the University, and facing on South University Avenue and State Street. The buildings themselves were given to the University by William W. Cook ('80, '82l), of New York City (see Part V: The Law School). Mr. Cook had first planned to endow a professorship of the law of corporations, but eventually this plan was merged in the more comprehensive and munificent gift which made possible the development of the Lawyers Club and the Law Quadrangle.

In the latter part of President Hutchins' administration, Mr. Cook had tentatively agreed to provide a dormitory for freshman students and had even acquired land for that purpose, the site of the University Museums Building on Washtenaw Avenue. This project however, was finally dropped and, when President Hutchins suggested that the Law School needed a new building and more adequate equipment, Mr. Cook was immediately interested. In 1920 a plan was prepared by members of the Law School staff and submitted to Mr. Cook for the erection of a Law School building, to include a library and dormitory. It also provided for a proposed endowment, the income to be used for the Page  1671development of legal research and graduate work.

Mr. Cook's response was prompt and generous, and a series of discussions took place between him and President Hutchins. It had first been proposed to place the buildings upon the lot on Washtenaw Avenue already purchased, but this proved too small for the purpose. In 1920 Mr. Cook, Dean Henry M. Bates, and the architects, York and Sawyer, of New York, decided upon a four-building project, embracing practically all the features of the plan as finally executed. The memorandum as agreed upon was incorporated, almost word for word, in that part of Mr. Cook's will, drawn the same year, which made provision for his benefactions to the University.

In accordance with this plan, the first part of the Quadrangle to be completed (1924) included the group of buildings comprising the Lawyers Club with its lounge, recreation room, offices, guest rooms, dining hall, and kitchen, and the residence hall facing on South University Avenue. In 1930-31 the John P. Cook Dormitory was erected, and in the summer of 1931, after the death of the donor in June, 1930, the beautiful and impressive William W. Cook Legal Research Building was ready for occupancy. Finally, in the early fall of 1933, Hutchins Hall, which contains the administrative offices and lecture, class, and seminar rooms of the Law School, was also completed.

Starret Brothers, of New York, were the contractors for the Lawyers Club, and the James Baird Company constructed the other buildings in the Quadrangle.

The Club buildings, with 127,347 square feet of floor space, form a magnificent Quadrangle open only at the southeast corner. A great central tower on the north side, rising some sixty-five feet, with the passageway beneath, constitutes a formal entrance to the Law School. Flagstone walks inside the Quadrangle connect the various buildings, and a generous planting of elms, arbor vitae hedges, and blue myrtle, which has grown remarkably, supplements the architectural features. Outside the Quadrangle evergreens of various types add color and individuality. The landscape design was the work of Jacob Van Heiningen of the firm of Pitkin and Mott, of Cleveland.

In their general style the buildings recall the Tudor Gothic of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and the Inns of Court in London, although the demands of modern life and academic programs have necessitated many departures from English precedent. The group as a whole is constructed of Weymouth seam-faced granite, with trim of Indiana limestone.

Although the dormitories resemble those of English colleges, in accordance with modern needs and practice the windows were made much larger to afford more light, a procedure which modern heating methods permit. The Tudor Gothic style of the buildings is modified in many ways by Renaissance influence, for example, by an arcade of Doric columns leading from the northwest entrance along the side of the Lawyers Club. The dining hall resembles closely the chapels at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge; the lounge in the Lawyers Club just to the north is distinctly Renaissance in style.

The architectural details to be observed throughout are a feature of the Quadrangle as a whole. Over most of the entrances to the main buildings, as well as over many of the interior doorways, are carved texts taken from many sources, some from the will of Mr. Cook and others from the writings of great jurists. The seals of the various states are carved upon the towers and ends of the Legal Research Building, while the seals Page  1672of American and European universities and colleges form a decorative feature of the stained glass windows. On the beams of the great dining hall are carved the heads of famous jurists. In the first-floor corridors of Hutchins Hall is a series of stained glass cartoons portraying humorously various problems with which the law is confronted.