Osgoode Hall Law School will get a complete facelift after the federal and provincial governments kicked in $25 million to renovate the existing facility and create over 20,000 square feet of new space.
“We are going to have the best law school building in Canada,” Osgoode dean Patrick Monahan told an audience gathered outside the law school to announce the funding. “It will have state-of-the-art facilities.”
Both levels of government have pledged $12.5 million for the initiative, which the school said will help it take in more graduate students, improve its teaching facilities and student community space, and house research centres. Osgoode has attracted $10 million in private funding to meet the project’s total cost.
The federal funding comes through the $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program to revamp colleges and universities, part of Ottawa’s $12-billion Economic Action Plan to stimulate the recessionary economy. The province has matched the feds’ contribution to the project.
Said Monahan: “I’m pinching myself — is this really happening?” He called the project, “the most important development for Osgoode Hall Law School since we came to York 41 years ago.”
Monahan, who on July 1 will finish his six-year reign as head of the law school to become York’s new vice-president academic and provost, recalled being a student at Osgoode in the late 1970s, shortly after the current building was erected: “Even then we were complaining about the building. I mean, the cafeteria was in the basement, the student lounge was in the basement — there were no windows. All the student clubs and all the facilities for students were in the basement.
“Now for the faculty it wasn’t bad; they had the place with the windows . . . There was no place for the students to gather.” Monahan said the problem worsened over the past decade as the school expanded its programs and added faculty and graduate students. He added, “This has been a consistent source of dissatisfaction for our students and our alumni.”
Monahan specifically thanked businessman Ignat Kaneff for his $2.5-million donation to the Building Osgoode Campaign. He announced that the new building will be called the “Ignat Kaneff Building” in recognition of the lead donor’s contribution.
Other major donations include $1 million from Canada Law Book and $750,000 from Goodmans LLP. Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent said the project is an example of an infrastructure project that can bolster the economy.
“This government of Canada investment in the York University Osgoode renovation and expansion will not only expand one of Canada’s foremost law schools, but will also provide a significant short-term economic stimulus to this corner of the GTA and will create jobs in this region,” said Kent.
York University president and vice-chancellor Mamdouh Sh-oukri thanked the governments “for their vision and their understanding of the importance of funding the postsecondary sector. . . . This investment in Osgoode Hall Law School is a vote of confidence in York, and it will help us build a better learning and teaching environment for our faculty, students, and staff.”
Here are some features of the new building, which will be designed by Jack Diamond of Diamond + Schmitt Architects Inc.:
• Single-storey addition over the library for a new cafeteria and administrative offices;
• an atrium, with a skylight, that will connect the addition with the existing building;
• new space for centres and programs:
• space for the world’s first dispute resolution centre and electronic courtroom;
• library reconfiguration for increased student access.
Osgoode hopes the facilities will reach Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver classification.
“It will be a modern facility that will rank amongst the best in North America, as we aspire to our vision to be Canada’s law school,” said Monahan.