American University


Washington College of Law

Washington, DC

312,000 gsf, 28,985 m2

Architecture, Engineering, Campus Planning, Historic Preservation

Craftsmanship Award, Mechanical - HVAC-Piping, Team Nomination, Technology Award

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This is more than a leading law school. It’s an environment of opportunity, and a uniquely collaborative place where students, faculty and alumni champion what matters in all areas of the law.

—Claudio Grossman, Dean, Washington College of Law, American University


One of the nation’s leading law schools, American University’s Washington College of Law had outgrown its building on Massachusetts Avenue, spilling over into nearby leased space. Its new home on the university’s Tenley Campus, a National Register historic site conveniently located near the Tenleytown Metro station, will enhance its rich tradition of innovation, excellence, and passion for the rule of law in the United States and beyond. The move initially faced significant opposition from area residents, concerned about new construction adversely affecting the character of the neighborhood. The school retained SmithGroupJJR to provide architectural, engineering and site design services.

The design creates a campus of three buildings, respectful of the neighborhood scale and enhancing the historic context of the campus. New and renovated buildings form a connected complex with a conference center, legal clinic, teaching courtrooms, law library, alumni center, and student spaces. Functional outdoor amenities are interspersed and include an axial ellipse garden and a central quad. The new construction features an innovative dedicated outside air system, coupled with radiant ceiling panels, designed by the engineering team. Well-suited to the expansive building arrangement, the system reduces noise, maintenance, operating costs and carbon emissions.

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Helping American University Achieve Its Climate Change Plan
Energy efficiency and LEED certification were top priorities for AU. Click on the link above to read more.