Maine Law to lose ugly building

Many law school buildings are quite iconic, having grand and regal looks about them. After all, the serious, sober business of teaching the law takes place inside.

Indeed, the National Jurist has ranked the Best Buildings in the past. One school that did not make the list was The University of Maine School of Law.

Its building did, however, earn a showing in two other rankings. Architectural Digest named it one of the seven ugliest university buildings in the nation. Business Insider named it the ugliest building in the state of Maine.

For one thing, It’s round. Ivy does not grow on it, either. A local TV station said it looks more like a water tower than a law school. Architectural Digest said it looks like “a futuristic version of the Roman Colosseum.” But not in a good way, apparently …

And it won’t be getting any sort of facelift. It’s likely going down. A committee with the University of Maine Board of Trustees recently recommended that the law school move from the building until a new one is built.

Dean Leigh Saufley gave quite a frank assessment when speaking of the building’s condition:

“What is wrong with the building is a four-hour conversation,” Saufley told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. She also noted how she had to work from home on a recent day because water comes into her office when it rains.

In the comment section of the story, a reader joked: “Architectural malpractice? Anyone know a good lawyer?”

The board of trustees’ committee is recommending that the law school move to a downtown Portland site until a new building is completed.

According to the agenda item regarding the building, it was noted that the building’s “design is functionally obsolete for the educational needs of the 21st century.”

The item added: “Perhaps less critically, but still noteworthy, the facility also has been named among the 8 ugliest university buildings in the nation. This is obviously a challenge, rather than an advantage, to law student recruitment.”

The school has 254 J.D. students.

The building is nearly 50 years old. According to Wikipedia, the building is a rare example of brutalist architecture in Maine. That’s a minimalist style, which features a raw look.

Two other law schools got hammered by Architectural Digest. The Boyd building at the University of Iowa College of Law and the John and Francis Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore School of Law also made the list of ugliest university buildings.

If the University of Maine wants to score with its new building it might be a good idea to look toward Memphis, Tenn. The University of Memphis – Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law was No. 1 on the National Jurist list for  Best Building.

It’s a vintage classic. The law school is housed in an 1878 building that at various times has served as a U.S. customs house, a courthouse and a post office.