Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Architecture - 3 Comments

University of Michigan Law Quad – Ann Arbor, Michigan

U of M Law Quad - Hutchins Hall and Lawyer's Club

The University of Michigan Law Quad is often considered among the top architectural highlights in the state of Michigan. Kathryn Bishop Eckert, in her authoritative guide to our state’s architecture, Buildings of Michigan, describes the U of M Law School Quadrangle as “…the most beautiful and functional group of educational buildings in Michigan… a manifestation of the university’s reputation as the Harvard of the Midwest. [It] exhibits a rare harmony of architectural style and a concern for the integrity of materials and details… a dignified setting for a scholarly discipline based upon centuries of precedent.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, so we didn’t even try.

Simply put, the place is drop-dead gorgeous. An historical marker placed in 2006 upon the Quad’s exterior walls, inside the entry arch at the base of the John P. Cook Dormitory Tower at approximately 800 South University Avenue, best relates the most essential information regarding the Quad’s origins. It reads: “University of Michigan Alumnus William W. Cook (1880/1882law) believed that the character of the legal profession depended on the character of Law Schools, and that the character of the Law Schools forecasted the future of America. In support of this he offered to donate the funds to build adequate facilities for the Law School. His gift enabled the construction of four buildings, the Lawyers Club (1924), the John P. Cook [Dormitory] Building (1930), named for the donor’s father, the William W. Cook Legal Research Library (1931), named for the donor, and Hutchins Hall (1933), named for former Law Dean and University President Harry B. Hutchins. At the time it was the largest gift from a single individual to a state college in Michigan. Designed by noted New York architects Edward Palmer York and Philip Sawyer, the buildings were constructed of Weymouth seam-face granite in the Gothic Revival style, based on English precedents. In recognition of this unique gift, the Regents in 1937 named the entire complex the William W. Cook Quadrangle. A 1981 underground addition to the Legal Research Library was designed by Gunnar Birkerts, and named for former Law School Dean, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and Interim President Allan Smith, and his wife Alene.”

Click here for an excellent and more thorough online article about the development and history of the University of Michigan Law Quad buildings. Huge thanks to the authors of the aforementioned website, the historical marker’s author, and Eckert for practically writing this post for us!  ~I♥DM

About the author

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Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.


  1. Sarah Rzewski
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 12:27 am

    I love the Law Quad! When I was a student at U of M, that was one of my favorite places to go and just hang out. Sitting in the center of the quad on a beautiful spring day is one of the most peaceful things ever.

  2. Posted February 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    […] Phillip Sawyer spent time with the firm before forming their own partnership and co-designing the University of Michigan’s Law Quad. As an associate, William M. Kendall designed what might be considered the firm’s most […]

  3. Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    […] 4. McKim, Meade & White (Charles Follen McKim 1847-1909; William Rutherford Meade 1846-1928, Stanford White 1853-1906) – New York City’s most prolific and influential architectural firm designed one major building in the State of Michigan: the State Savings Bank Building (1900) at 151 West Fort Street. Seminal structures that cemented their place in American architectural history include the Washington Square Arch (1891-1895) in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the McKim Building (1902-1906) at the J.P. Morgan Library also in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Museum Building (1897), and the Rhode Island Statehouse (1895-1901) in Providence. The facade of the Morgan Library, incidentally, was called the “finest piece of Renaissance in the  world” by Detroit’s own Wirt Rowland ["New York Old and New", Michigan Society of Architects, Weekly Bulletin, February 22, 1938]. Just as impressive as McKim, Mead and White’s inventory of historically significant commissions is their lengthy roster of former associates which includes six other well-known architects with designs in Detroit: Cass Gilbert, Edward Lippincott Tilton, John Merven Carrère, Thomas S. Hastings, Edward York and Philip Sawyer. […]

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