The John Marshall Law School, Student Commons

Chicago, Illinois

The John Marshall Law School (JMLS) is a distinguished institution of legal education, situated at the epicenter of Chicago’s vibrant South Loop Education Corridor. The student commons project transforms a former Walgreens retail space into the primary campus student interactive space. It engages the school environment with the broader urban context, creates a ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONFEATURED IN2013 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYInterior Renovation cyber cafe for collegial discourse, and offers hard-working students a place to buy a meal and school supplies—all while establishing a prominent main entrance on Chicago’s famous State Street.

JMLS is a vertical, urban law school, housed in a former department store with unusually tall floor-to-floor heights. To take advantage of these heights, the first-floor curtainwall was rebuilt, flooding the entry and student lounge areas with light and urban views, while showcasing the school activities for the sidewalk passersby. These light-filled gathering spaces wrap around the new cyber cafe and bookstore. 

A new stair was created to link lounge and student service areas on the first and second floors to tie the areas together, encourage pedestrian traffic between the spaces, and reduce the load on the building’s existing elevators.  

A rich palette of finishes including fiddle-back anigre wood veneer paneling, porcelain tile pavers and wall panels, and stainless-steel and glass walls were deployed to elevate the higher-education experience to that of a professional law firm setting befitting the stature of JMLS’ pedagogical mission.