Loyola has commitment to expand law school

Pine Street building considered cramped

Thursday March 25, 2004

By Coleman Warner
Times-Picayune Staff writer

Loyola University is moving ahead with long-discussed plans for expanding its law school at the Catholic university's Broadway campus as a result of American Bar Association pressure.

The accrediting body for law programs, the Bar Association has repeatedly told Loyola its four-story, 111,000-square-foot building on Pine Street is too cramped. The building serves 830 students and more than 70 full-time and adjunct faculty members.

The association has taken a strident position with Loyola in the past two years, sparking concerns that without a firm construction timetable, the law school's accreditation could be threatened, Dean Brian Bromberger said.

The school is without a large lecture hall, has cramped office space and provides no dining area for support staff, Bromberger said. Efficient class scheduling also requires more seminar rooms, he said.

Loyola will add a 16,000-square-foot section to the existing building, pushing its riverside edge to Dominican Street. Additional parking will be provided on the bottom level of the four-story addition. Campus officials said they don't think zoning rules for the parcel require any special review by city planners or the City Council.

The $5 million project will mean razing a modest residential building that houses the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice. Relocation details for the Twomey Center aren't finalized.

Loyola officials last week called a meeting to tell neighbors about the plan and assure them that efforts would be made to ease the impact on nearby residents. They also said there are no immediate plans to move forward with other elements of a 1997 master plan for the Broadway campus that includes closure of a section of Pine Street, creation of a pedestrian mall and demolition of a Quonset hut-style activity center.

"They (Loyola officials) at least seem cooperative," said Charles Beverly, a close neighbor who worries his house could be damaged by pile-driving. "My position at this point is sort of wait and see."

University officials said they have yet to set a timetable for construction and still need to hire an architect for the project.