Yale Law School has undergone its most drastic expansion since it was built in 1929 — into Swing Space.
Several areas in Swing, including parts of the basement, a common room and the fourth floor, are now extension space for Law School student organizations, postdoctoral fellows’ work space and administrative offices, said Associate Dean Mike Thompson. Yale Law hopes to be able to use the rest of the building for dormitory space by 2018, he added.
“We just don’t have any more space in our current building,” Thompson said. “We have more than 50 active student organizations and nowhere for them all to meet.”
Currently, juniors in up to six residential colleges live in annex housing on the second and third floors of Swing Space. A second elevator installed in the building this summer allows undergraduates to use one elevator and law students the other. Members of the Law School also enter Swing Space from their own side entrance at 40 Ashmun St., right across the road from the main law campus on Wall Street.
The first floor now houses a “living room” common area, and the fourth floor has office space for the school’s alumni affairs and development offices and the student group the Information Society Project. In addition to office space, Yale Law built four new seminar rooms — three on the fourth floor and one in the basement — and two conference rooms. Construction began June 1 and ended Aug. 25.
“It’s a wonderfully well-equipped facility, in a great location just across the street from the Law School,” said Law School Associate Dean Toni Davis LAW ’92, who has worked on the fourth floor of Swing Space. “The design and lighting and interesting colors make it a really cheerful space… All of us expect that it will surely be a hub of activity once fall term gets underway.”
Margot Kaminski LAW ’10, the executive director of the Yale Information Society Project, said she also looks forward to meeting with group members face to face in the new rooms, adding that the new skylights on the fourth floor will provide a pleasant place to read.
But despite the new space, administrators eagerly await the time they can use the rest of Swing Space for student housing. Students currently live either in other graduate school dormitories or off campus, as office space and meeting rooms gradually replaced the second-floor bedrooms that existed when the school was built, Thompson said.
“Swing will restore a sense of community that was lost when we had to give up housing,” Director of Public Affairs Jan Conroy said. “We have had activities in the dining hall, movie nights and other activities to keep people here not just to study, but also as part of the school community. It’s much harder when people don’t live here, so we’re so thankful to the University for giving us Swing for dorm space.”
Swing Space will remain annex housing for Yale College students until the University completes the two new residential colleges on Science Hill, said Thompson. The buildings were initially set to be completed by 2015, but the recession in 2008 delayed the construction. The Law School will take Swing over altogether when the college no longer has need of the space, slated to occur in 2018.
As of now, Yale Law is the only law school in the nation to remain in the same footprint it had when it was built. The only minor expansion occurred when the school added 900 extra square feet next to the dining hall.