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News Posted on December 19, 2012

From Vision to Reality: King Hall Expansion and Renovation Project Reaches Completion

The transformation is nearly complete: UC Davis School of Law has a bigger and better Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall and now resides in a state-of-the-art facility befitting its status as one of the world's great law schools.

Photo Gallery: New King Hall Building

When construction crews put the final touches on improvements to the Mabie Law Library and first floor classrooms in November 2012, it marked the successful completion of a process that started in 1998, when then-Dean Rex Perschbacher first lobbied university officials for approval of capital improvement plans.  First opened in 1969, King Hall was built at a time when Socratic dialogue still dominated the teaching of law and the need for technological infrastructure to support laptop computers and wireless internet access could barely have been imagined. The King Hall Expansion and Renovation Project was conceived as a means to modernize and improve the Law School building in order to support more interactive and experiential learning, accommodate modern technology, provide public spaces for students and faculty, make room for flourishing student organizations and student services, and provide flexibility to facilitate further growth and progress. 

Following a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2007, work began on the construction of the expansion wing, an aesthetically striking, functionally advanced facility that can accommodate the latest technologies and provide tremendous flexibility for the Law School as it continues to develop well into the future.  Completed in September 2010, the new wing provides 18,000-square-feet of assignable space, houses the new Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, additional classrooms, office space, and more. 

Immediately following the completion of the expansion, work began on the renovation and retrofitting of the previously existing King Hall building to complement the new wing, bringing significant improvements to classrooms, study areas, the student lounge, student organization offices, the Mabie Law Library, and other key facilities.  Classrooms were renovated to match the layout and technological capacity of those in the new wing, including a "horseshoe" seating configuration and shallower vertical drop from the back of the room to the front to create an enhanced feeling of intimacy. 

The final months of construction brought dramatic changes to the Mabie Law Library. While its original design did not include spaces for group study, the renovated library includes 13 study rooms that can accommodate groups of four to six students. Available study space has increased by about 50 seats, including open and reserved seating.  The stairwell has been removed from the library lobby, opening the space to the courtyard and the rest of the building and providing a beautiful entryway to the main reading room, which has become an elegant space with improved lighting and attractive paneling and is expected to be utilized for a wide range of functions and events. 

"All of these improvements are essential to our ability to recruit and retain the best faculty and students, and to continue to provide an outstanding legal education to future generations," said Dean Kevin R. Johnson.  "The completion of our building project has been vital to our mission as a great, public law school, and I am sure I speak for everyone at UC Davis School of Law when I say we are profoundly grateful to everyone who helped to make this critically important project a reality."

The project was financed with $17.9 million in state bond funds, $5.7 million raised from private donors and $3.9 million from other campus funds. Fundraising for the construction project's renovation phase is ongoing, with the Law School seeking to raise an additional $2.3 million to fund the final phase of the project.