The William W. Cook Legal Research Building
Of the Law Quadrangle group the William W. Cook Legal Research Building is easily the most striking. It is in harmony with the other buildings of the group although more massive in general design. The main part forms one vast paneled library 244 feet long, 44 feet wide, and 50 feet high, with seating capacity for 500 persons. The exterior of the building is marked by four massive pinnacled towers, which, with the long row of arched and traceried windows extending the length of the building, emphasize the essential Gothic spirit of the architectural scheme and, at the same time, impart a rugged and individual beauty to the building.
An archway of carved stone at the entrance leads into a vestibule whence one may proceed directly to the main reading room or go down to the lounges and smoking rooms in the basement. The reading room gives an impression of architectural and decorative splendor. The ceiling is its most beautiful and interesting feature. Constructed of large plaster medallions paneled and decorated in blue and gold, it has heavy tie-beams running across it at the ends of which are carved figures which hold escutcheons bearing coats of arms of various heraldic designs. The stone walls are paneled in a carved oak to the height of 15 feet, above which high windows of tinted glass, bearing seals of the colleges and universities of the world, cast a soft light. The room has recessed bookshelves for 10,000 volumes of statutes, reports, digests, and encyclopedias. Long narrow alcoves opening off the main room also contain bookshelves holding about 20,000 volumes.
Immediately above the reading room, or the floor corresponding to the ninth-stack level, are thirty-two offices for the use of visiting lawyers, members of the faculty, and research workers. One of these rooms contains the private library of the donor, William W. Cook, arranged as nearly as possible as it was in his New York home and with the original furniture and decorations.
At the rear of the main reading room is the delivery desk from which passages give access to the tiers of stackrooms. This part of the building, of separate construction, was originally six book levels in height, and held approximately 210,000 volumes. In 1955 the stack structure was increased to ten levels with a total book capacity of approximately 350,000 volumes. In this structure there are 64 carrels and 31 offices for faculty members and graduate students. From level seven a bridge leads across to the third floor of Hutchins Hall, where the administrative offices of the Law School are situated. A connecting passageway from the basement of the library also leads to the basement and first floor of Hutchins Hall.