When I first arrived on campus, I would not stop complaining about the Law Building. “It’s too big,” I said. “It’s too ugly,” I said. “I hate it,” I said. I thought it clashed with the rest of the architecture on campus. It was a big, concrete eyesore, which I think applies to how most students on campus feel.
Now I can’t stop complaining about how the Law Building is fantastic and nobody understands it. It’s fantastic, the anchor of central campus and while not the best brutalist building in the world, one of the most thoughtful on campus. This isn’t some hipsterific “I loved the Law Building before anyone” deal. With all the time I spent walking past the building I began to appreciate the subtleties of its well-composed geometry. While I can’t formalize my opinions in writing like the Boston Globe, I do think the Law Building, Mugar Library, and GSU are all harmonious and well-designed.
Here, I’ve noted some of my favorite parts of the Law Building, GSU, and Mugar Library. I’ve also included guides to what I’m seeing, in case the building’s beauty is not obvious to everyone else.
The two towers capping the GSU contain maintenance and air conditioning. When seen from the right angle (in this case, the 26th floor of Student Village 2) the homage it pays to BU’s central campus is clear. The two modern towers reference the two gothic towers of the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Theology.
The library, when seen from behind, is definitely split into three layers: three layers of windows, three layers of vents, three levels of horizontal concrete strips. The most interesting formation occurs on the left-hand side, where the distant law building fills in and completes the third layer.
The glass corner of the Law Library reduces its visual weight. It makes the Law Library appear as two slabs, one hovering above the other. Also, glass corners are just way cool.
The windows of the Law Building create a grid that ascends its entire height. Take notice: it is obvious the narrow windows go from floor to ceiling, since the distance between each one is the same as the horizontal slabs of floor. This revealing, almost naked, building is typical of the brutalist style it was built in.
The geometry grows complex in some places, like here on the side of the Law Auditorium. The complexity, however, surrounds a dark brick wall which is the eye’s first draw. The revealed I-beam, above the wall, is another instance of the brutalist architecture exposing the underlying structure of the building.
All photographs and illustrations by Allan Lasser.