University of Michigan Law Quad – Ann Arbor, Michigan
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