The University of Memphis Law School was confined to an inadequate and failing building on the University of Memphis campus, separated from law offices, judges, and courtrooms that comprise the actual practice of Law. In 2007, the original US Postal Service Customs House, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, became the new home for the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, providing a location that better suited the school’s needs. The historic building, originally constructed in the early 1880’s, would require major renovations to fit the Law School program, so Fleming Architects along with Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, led the process of adapting this historical building into a functional academic facility. The design challenge centered on how to properly convert the building into a modern Law School, while being careful to preserve the historical character of the space. Improvements to the building included high efficiency electrical and mechanical systems, and upgraded windows and insulation to improve building envelope performance. The existing wood and plasterwork was cleaned and restored, and significant decorative elements were carefully removed, repaired and repurposed elsewhere in the building. Major seismic upgrades impacted nearly the entire building, and included strengthening the building corners, foundations, columns, and railings, and buttressing the original 1880’s core. The relocation of the Law School allowed for the rehabilitation of an iconic Memphis building, and gave the Law School sufficient, functional space as well as the necessary proximity to the downtown legal district.
“This building couldn’t be a more perfect, impressive space for the law school”