Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why I Love Loyola’s Campus (Or, True Life: I am Obsessed with Frank Gehry)

By Gillian, 3L

One of the most common responses I get when I tell people I go to Loyola is the following: “Oh, LMU? I love that campus! You’re so luck to be by the ocean.” I chuckle and explain that actually the law school has it’s own separate campus near Downtown LA’s Staples Center/L.A. Live, and although we are not beach-adjacent, the campus is pretty cool in its own right.

Oh, and the fact that it was designed by my favorite architect, Frank Gehry, doesn’t hurt either. (If you haven’t heard of Frank Gehry, do a Google Image Search STAT. He’s the genius behind Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bilbao, Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, and tons of other architectural gems around the world.)

View from the top of LLS's parking garage.
Loyola’s campus consists of one city block (between Olympic and James M. Wood streets, on Albany Street) and all of the buildings are contained on this campus. Although Loyola does not have some of the amenities of that a full-blown undergraduate university campus might, such as an on-campus gym, multiple eateries, or non-law students, the campus itself makes up for that in my opinion.

The Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott
at LA Live
Frank Gehry brought his quirky point of view to Loyola, and his post-modern style permeates the campus. I love the fact that the Loyola campus has a true identity, and isn’t just some random brick building hidden in the corner of a sprawling university. Additionally, I love the fact that I can sneak in views of DTLA’s skyline as well as the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott (if you know me you know that I have somewhat of an obsession with this building as well. It is just so cool!)

One building on campus, the Burns Academic Center, which houses classrooms, faculty offices, and our cafeteria, is distinctly yellow and features zig-zagged staircases. This is definitely not your average law school building. Gehry once explained his concept for the Burns building on the Architectural Tour section of the Loyola website:
I took the stairways that would normally have been inside and spilled them onto the outside of the building with the idea that it would animate the façade and bring people out onto the front of the building, animating the building with human beings. When classes break, you see the front of the building covered with people running up and down the stairs. That complements the people walking around in the space below and gives it a lot more excitement. 
Gehry incorporated a large tree in the center of campus, with the idea that people would gather around it, encouraging conversation. During my 1L year, my friends and section-mates would often meet up here to go over problems before our civil procedure class, to eat lunch, or to figure out where we were going for a beer after our Thursday evening class. If someone mentions “The Tree,” most Loyolans know what they’re talking about. 

One other quirky think about our campus I want to highlight is the Toppling Ladder sculpture.
This sculpture, known as “Toppling Ladder with Spilling Paint” was created by sculptors (and frequent Gehry collaborators) Claes Oldenburg and Cooje van Bruggen. Gehry himself said it reminded him of a law student running around a building late for class, spilling his backpack. I have also heard people say it stands for the scales of justice. Regardless of the interpretation you prefer, to me the inclusion of this sculpture on our campus suggests Loyola might just be a law school with a sense of humor. 

Besides all of the Gehry buildings, one thing I like about Loyola is the location of the law school. We are walking distance from L.A. Live – making mid-day Starbucks breaks (or end-of-the-day beer “breaks”) completely feasible. Being downtown is also insanely convenient for students who choose to do a judicial externship during the semester, since most of the court buildings are in DTLA.

It might not be for everyone, but I love our campus. Now that I am in my third year at LLS I can definitely say my Frank Gehry obsession is full-blown.

For more about Gehry’s design and Loyola Law School’s architecture, check out the Architectural Tour on Loyola’s website.

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