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SLU’s New Law School Breathed New Life Into An Old Building, Downtown

September 30, 2013 Downtown, Featured, SLU 25 Comments

The building at 100 North Tucker was built by a developer in 1964, opening for office tenants in 1965. Typical for that era, the 11-story structure had low ceilings and small windows. It was plain, a dog. It’s been “functionally obsolete” for decades now.  Occupancy dwindled to the point the last owner donated it to his alma mater, Saint Louis University.

The same building in September 2012
100 North Tucker in September 2012, before renovations

Last week I got to tour the Saint Louis University School of Law, the new occupant of the building. The tour was organized by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, our guides were architects from The Lawrence Group who worked on the project.

Turns out the structure was designed to have two more floors to be added later. So one tall floor was added.
Turns out the structure was designed to have two more floors to be added later. So one tall floor was added. Two previously unused elevator shafts got new elevators to the 12th, the originals stop at 11
The library occupies the 5th & 6th floors with views of the St. Louis courts to the south
The library occupies the 5th & 6th floors with views of the St. Louis courts to the south
The south end of the new top floor is an event space, wheelchair access is provided by a ramp out of view
The south end of the new top floor is an event space, wheelchair access is provided by a ramp out of view
The glass wall of the 12th floor offers great views downtown. A mock courtroom occupies the north end of the floor.
The glass wall of the 12th floor offers great views downtown. A mock courtroom occupies the north end of the floor.
A small class was having a mock trial inside the courtroom
A small class was having a mock trial inside the courtroom during our tour
View looking east
View looking east

I’ve not been happy with the direction former SLU President Larry Biondi took the main campus (fenced fortress) but his last project looks to be a winner.  I’ve not tried The Docket restaurant on the ground floor yet, but at lunch on the day of the tour I saw a SLU law student at Empire Deli on Washington. An ugly building was given new life while adding many more people downtown.

Congrats and thank you to everyone that made this happen!

— Steve Patterson

  • wumpum

    I originally thought this was a good use for a trash building, but that the law students would add nothing to downtown vibrancy. I’m not so sure about that anymore. You notice them on the streets (the student types stick out like a soar thumb among the suburban office drones and crackheads that normally clog downtown street of a weekday). All in all they do add some life, especially to a rough part of Tucker, and you got to think the SLU law move helped nudge the parc pacific along. Too bad Biondi didn’t figure out that he should have been nurturing midwone into a neighborhood of urban revival, not trying to bring the County to the heart of the City (to make the students feel more at home, I guess).

    • moe

      Many of those ‘crack heads’ are homeless dumped from the surrounding area, under or un-employed laborers, and veterans.
      As for the main campus, ask 10 students what they like about it and 9 will say the campus is beautiful. Fr. Biondi’s duty is to SLU first, the mid-town second. Could he have done some things differently? Yes. But considering the campus is a major draw for both incoming and returning students, the market forces haven’t proven him wrong.

      • wimp

        Wow, such compassion, typical clayton liberal, very caring until it effects YOU

    • Tom

      Suburban Office Drone? Can you explain?

      • Mark

        Just look at yourself Tom.

        • Tom

          Should I apologize because I took advantage of my educational opportunities, studied hard, and landed a great job, making lots and lots of money in a field that offers viable opportunities for even a better future for my family and for myself?

          Yea, Right!

          • wump

            yuck, just so smarmy and gross, I gotta take a shower

      • wumpcity

        You know, those fat county people that work in downtown office buildings

        • Eric

          Nice and tolerant aren’t we on this blog. No stereotypes whatsoever.

          • dr wumpumstien

            not tolerating them is different than pointing out what they are, big fat county people. some of my best friends are big fat county people, and thats ok. is it a stereotype? yes it is, one based in reality. many people who work in downtown office buildings are fat asses from the county, so what? they are people too. i like them, they spend money on lunch, i wish there were more of them downtown. how do you think THREE imo’s stay in biz downtown? i have a theory…

          • Tom

            No, Dr. Wart, I haven’t developed a taste for the cheese used in STL pizza. Love the crust and the red sauce used in Imo’s and other local brands, but that’s as far as it goes. Can’t identify the problem yet, but it will come. So we purchase DiGiorno pizza at home–next best thing to delivered pizza ( and without the odd cheese). Sometimes I take leftover pizza to the office and eat it cold….So, no, Dr. Wart, I am not among the group of county fat-cats feeding my face at Imos!

        • moe

          wumpum, wimp, wump, wumpcity or whatever your cutesie name is today or tomorrow. Let us know when you bring something intelligent to the conversation. It’s a shame that Steve is allowing his site to be degraded.

          • moeisabigfatidiot

            tool late, I have more intellectual integrity in my little finger than you have in your whole body, but, hey, you can’t fix stoopud

          • Tom

            And what exactly is “intellectual integrity”? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Would you please explain? In your explanation, please avoid the use of the words “effect” and “affect”, because your “intellectual integrity” obviously doesn’t differentiate between the two.

          • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

            I like to see people hang themselves

  • Tom

    I think any use of an empty building is a good use, provided its use violates no ordinances. So I’m happy with the reuse of the new law building, and I commend Lawrence Group on their final product. I too have noticed the law students in and around the downtown area, and it gratifies me to see large groups of youth who appear to be career oriented and who appear most likely to be meeting personal goals and establishing levels of expectation in their personal lives. And I’ve talked with several, and I find it noteworthy that they were actually taught (and practice) the English language. The activity I see them engaged in on the streets is no different from that which you’d see on a serious college campus that offers rigorous coursework preparing mature and success-driven students for D-Day, and I would expect no different!.

  • Will Fru

    Joe and Loretta Scott are not SLU alums. They had a building to unload and thought SLU might want it.

    • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

      Thanks for the correction

  • dempster holland

    I am sure this is a minority view, but I think it was a mistake to move the
    law school from the main St Louis u campus. A university is supposed
    to be a gethering place for all disciplines, with each hopefully benefitting
    from some interaction with the others. Removing the law school lessens
    that interaction, both for the law students/professors and for the other
    students and professors.

    • moe

      I think for some disciplines you may be correct. However, I think the law students will benefit more from closer proximity to the courts than to the main campus. SLU has had their medical school separated since the 40’s and look at Wash U’s med schools.

      • JZ71

        How much time do grad students spend in classrooms, in internships and in real-world situations? I’d guess that the dynamic between law school and med school is quite different, with law students spending more time (outside the classroom) in law offices (and not actually in court), while med students spend more time doing residencies than they spend in individual physicians’ practices. Using that logic, might downtown Clayton have actually been the best location for SLU’s law school?

        • moe

          Why Clayton? The City has City, County, State, and Federal Courts (Eastern, bankruptcy, and 8th Circuit) plus easy access to Illinois (Federal 7th and bankruptcy plus local). Clayton just has County courts.

          • JZ71

            Where are the major law firms concentrated? I’m guessing that, currently, they’re pretty evenly split between downtown St. Louis and downtown Clayton, with a gradual movement toward Clayton. I’m no expert on getting a legal education, but I’m guessing there’s more to be learned by working as a clerk or an intern in a law office than by sitting in the gallery in a court room.

          • NL7

            There are eight NALP firms listed as having St. Louis locations (NALP roughly covers most of the biggest legal employers). Downtown you’ll find: Bryan Cave (the biggest office, roughly 250 attys), Dentons (formerly SNR Denton, maybe 40 attys), Greensfelder (160 attys), Polsinelli (110 attys), Thompson Coburn (240 attys). In Clayton, NALP lists: Husch Blackwell (210 attys), Fulbright & Jaworski (maybe 10 attys), Stinson (50 attys). Also, not listed on NALP for downtown are Lewis Rice & Fingersh (I’m guessing like 150 attys?) and Brown & Crouppen (maybe a couple dozen attys?). Not listed on NALP for Clayton is Armstrong Teasdale (185 attys). There are other firms I’m sure I’m missing, and it doesn’t count public employers or CPA firms that employ lawyers, or the various smaller and mid sized firms.

            I would say a lot of the legal market is still downtown. It also makes it more likely that attorneys working downtown will be able to come to SLU for CLE events, teaching classes as adjuncts, and attending legal presentations, speeches, conferences and symposia. It’s relatively easy to get law students to travel for job opportunities, but it’s somewhat harder to get lawyers to travel to law schools. Putting it downtown near courts and law offices makes it easier to get lawyers to swing by.

            I think it also wins them a fair bit of news coverage and acclaim for being part of revitalizing downtown. They might even be able to claim some credit (rightly or not) ten years from now for whatever subsequent improvements will have been made downtown.

        • NL7

          The last owner donated this location to SLU. Nobody donated a huge empty building in Clayton.

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