Founded in 1983, the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law’s mission—to educate and prepare outstanding public interest and public service attorneys to legally assist underprivileged communities as well as promote diversity in the legal profession—has made it one of the top public interest law schools in the country. The new CUNY School of Law, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, occupies the first 6 floors of 2 Court Square in Long Island City, Queens, the former Citigroup tower. The building interior includes a mix of classrooms, seminar rooms, lecture halls and auditoriums, and shared student spaces on the first through third floors, with faculty and administrative offices, and a 72,000-square-foot law library occupying the fourth through sixth floors. The designers developed a comprehensive environmental graphics and wayfinding sign program for the renovation of this 225,000-square-foot, LEED Gold certified facility. The program involved the development of a consistent typographic design and materials vocabulary used for all informational, identification, directional, and code-related signs relating to building, health, accessibility, fire, and ADA codes. A series of murals was developed to illustrate the school’s mission as well as bring warmth to its public spaces. An inviting and visually dynamic typographic mural greets all entering the building with the word “welcome” appearing in various languages spoken in the school’s culturally diverse neighborhood. Elevator lobbies celebrate the language of law by featuring narratives from 5 of the main charters of human rights—documents selected by faculty and students. A tree-like beacon spanning all 6 floors of the school features key terms such as “Democracy,” “Empathy,” “Equality,” and “Justice,” highlighting the core values of the practice of law. Designed to emulate carved letters in a tree’s bark, the words appear in a repeating pattern on the entire length of the beacon’s base as well as its 8 branches. The end result is a graphic design program that reflects CUNY School of Law’s identity as a premier public interest law school as well as its commitment to advancing social justice.
Project Status: Built
- Environmental Graphic Design: Poulin + Morris
- Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates