Federal architecture appropriate for new College of Law building

When the current law building was built nearly 40 years ago, a new, innovative and contemporary design was chosen. It has been despised by the students and faculty ever since. Over the past few years, the College of Law has dropped in national rankings in part due to the limited capacity of the current building. In order to regain first-tier status (which is much more a part of the Top 20 Business Plan than any aesthetic concerns), the college needs a new home with room to expand the classrooms, library and technology. A site and design have been selected. Any criticisms come a day late and a dollar short. The Kernel should focus its energies on something more productive than criticizing the proposed architecture of the new College of Law building.

On a different level, there is nothing wrong with Federal-style architecture, especially for a law building. First, the Federal style is historical. It evolved to link the new American people with the ancient birthplaces of democracy and republicanism. These ideals are deeply rooted in the American legal system. The Federal style is also historical for Lexington; for example, the Pope Villa. Second, the balance and symmetry of the Federal style symbolizes fairness, much like the scales of Justitia. Finally, there is a legitimate purpose in surrounding law with a stately elegance. Everything about the Supreme Court of the United States, from its imposing Beaux-Arts-style building, to the justices robes, to the velvet curtain that separates the court room from the justices’ chambers, is designed to strengthen the legitimacy of the law by removing the human element and inspiring reverence and awe. We need a building in which we can host the Kentucky Supreme Court with pride.

Of course, the construction of a Federal-style law building raises a more serious question: Is the Federalist Society winning the ideological battle with the Constitution Society?