Osgoode Hall Law School moves to its temporary digs

Ever since the announcement three months ago by the federal and provincial governments of a $25-million investment in the renovation and expansion of Osgoode Hall Law School, members of the Osgoode and York communities have been working around the clock on a relocation plan.

In what is a logistical triumph, the last of the law school’s offices and services, with the exception of the Offices of Student Services (which will move in mid-September), are relocating this week into temporary space in campus buildings close to the Osgoode Hall Law School Building.

Above: Fencing and construction signage signal the start of renovations at Osgoode Hall Law School

Fortunately for Osgoode students, who start classes on Monday, the academic wing in the law school’s existing building (consisting of large classrooms, two seminar rooms and the Moot Court) will remain open throughout the construction. The wing, which will be completely closed off from the rest of the building, has its own ventilation and mechanical support systems that allow for its continued safe use. 

“The positive spirit in which the members of the Osgoode and York communities have come together to make this move happen has been really quite remarkable,” said Osgoode Interim Dean Jinyan Li (right). “Everyone has been tremendously supportive. I want to thank our faculty, students and staff, Campus Services & Business Operations and the other York Faculties for their cooperation, patience, guidance and assistance.”

Classes will be taught primarily in the existing Osgoode building from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Thursday, and from 8:30am to 12:30pm on Friday. Evening classes will be taught in nearby buildings. Additional seminar and classroom space will be located in the Ross Building and in nearby buildings including the Atkinson College Building, the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies (HNES) Building and in the fine arts complex. One class will be held in the Vanier College Building. Classes will start on the half-hour, not 40 minutes after the hour as in previous years.

Osgoode’s Information Technology Services Helpdesk, Materials Distribution Centre and the offices of the Obiter Dicta student newspaper, Women’s Caucus, Student Athletics and Mock Trial will also continue to operate in the existing building. A new, permanent accessibility elevator will run between the ground floor and second floor. 

The eighth floor of the Ross Building is where most Osgoode offices and services will be located, including the Office of the Dean, Student Services, CLASP and, starting in October, the Legal & Literary Society and Student Caucus. The TEL Building will hold another 20 professors’ offices. 

HNES and the Scott Library will house a good portion of the Osgoode Hall Law Library collection and provide study spaces for the exclusive use of Osgoode students. 

Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of faculty, staff and departments will remain the same.

Li said one of her highest priorities during the construction “will be to ensure that the law school community remains closely connected to each other.” 

She noted that the Osgoode Community Enhancement Forum, composed of Osgoode students, faculty and staff, is planning a number of community events, starting with the Osgoode Community Groundbreaking Event on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 12.30pm, to be held in front of the Osgoode Hall Law School Building (or in the Moot Court in case of rain).

“The goal of this student-led event is to bring the community together to kick off the construction in a fun and positive way,” Li said. Legal & Literary Society President Sanford Murray will be the event’s master of ceremonies and efforts are underway to identify and enlist talented students to provide the entertainment.

The much-needed renovation and expansion of the law school’s 41-year-old building by Diamond & Schmitt Architects Inc. will transform Osgoode into one of the best student-centred facilities among law schools in North America.

Most of the law school’s five-storey building will be substantially gutted in phases over two years, redesigned and repurposed. As well, a single-storey addition focused on student spaces and needs will be built over the existing library reading room.

It was announced on May 29 that the federal and provincial governments would invest $25 million under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program in Osgoode’s $50-million building renovation and expansion. The other $25 million has come from the generosity of donors to the Building Osgoode campaign and from York University.

Construction will begin next month and be substantially completed by March 2011. More detailed information can be found on the Building Osgoode Web site.