Boyd Law Building
Boyd Law Building
What You'll Find Here
- College of Law
- Court Café
- Law Library
- Law, Health Policy and Disability Center
- National Health Law and Policy Resource Center
- Classrooms and faculty offices
Having first outgrown Gilmore Hall and then the Law Commons (International Center), the College of Law moved to its current home, Boyd Law Building, in 1986. Named after law professor, past provost, and past University of Iowa president Willard L. Boyd, the building contains two trial courtrooms (with jury room and judge’s chambers), a 300-seat appellate courtroom also used as an auditorium, classrooms, faculty offices, and a 1,100,000-volume law library.
Occupying the slope of a bluff, the design hovers between Late Modernist abstraction and early Postmodern reference to local tradition. Boyd Law Building uses concrete and aluminum paneling to reflect materials and geometries reminiscent of Iowa agricultural architecture. The central dome and its cylindrical base do double duty, recollecting both grain silos and Old Capitol. The unusual radial plan, unique on the UI campus and rare in modern architecture in general, is perhaps, once again, homage to the Iowa farmscape. But this design is of exceptional sophistication in its treatment of monumental ideal geometry and the more practical issues of access and light. The perimeter wall opens toward the south to provide a generous welcoming sector at the main entrance, another notch toward the slope of the bluff provides glass curtain walls, while narrow vertical breaks and the large cleft in the north façade allow natural light to descend to lower levels. The result is a building that from the exterior seems somewhat closed but which is nevertheless filled with light inside.
The expression of pure geometric forms is so dominant that one commentator has seen in it a reference to the radical visionary architects of late eighteenth-century France, especially to Boullée’s 1783 project for Newton’s Cenotaph. At the entrance, Rodin’s sculpture represents Jean de Fiennes, the youngest of the leading citizens of Calais who offered themselves, in 1347, to the enemy in exchange for their besieged city. The piece is particularly appropriate for the College of Law context. It expresses the important role of civic responsibility for the sake of the commonwealth.
The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.