WINDSOR, Ont. — For the first time in nearly five years, Windsor Law students studying on campus will pass through the doors of the completely transformed Ron W. Ianni Building.
The home of the Faculty of Law at the corner of University and Sunset avenues recently underwent a five-year, multi-million-dollar renovation, transforming the interior and exterior of the building into a space that fosters a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
“This newly redesigned building represents Windsor Law’s commitment to creating a legal education that represents its student body,” said Reem Bahdi, Dean of Windsor Law, University of Windsor.
“By creating a welcoming and accessible environment it will promote dynamic learning and student wellness.”
September 2023 marks the beginning of a new chapter as all three cohorts of students enter the building together, a first since 1973.
Many of the spaces are unrecognizable with new, bright and open student lounges, modern furniture, learning spaces, collaboration zones and a state-of-the-art Don Rodzik Moot Court where students can replicate court proceedings.
The entire building was retrofitted to establish an open-concept design, connecting all three floors and allowing natural light to cascade from skylights from top to bottom.
In 2019, Windsor Law set out to reimagine the Ron W. Ianni Building and the Transforming Windsor Law project launched with a mission dedicated to providing an innovative and accessible institution committed to revolutionizing legal education and shaping the future of legal practice.
“Transforming the University of Windsor’s Ron W. Ianni Faculty of Law building is much more than a renovation of a 50-year-old brutalist building,” said Duncan Higgins, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
“The approach was to embrace the architectural character of the facility and its history on campus while creating an open and collaborative space that offers flexibility for diverse modes of learning, and supports the pedagogies of the 21st century.”
The addition of expansive windows lets in significant natural light to enhance wellness, reduce energy costs and grant views of the busiest border crossing in the world — a reminder of Windsor Law’s transnational commitments. The physical space also highlights the school’s obligation to Indigenous peoples with themes woven throughout the building's architecture and has also introduced areas with smudging capabilities.
A ventilation system that formerly dominated the heart of the building has now been moved to the roof and has been replaced with a large, usable area featuring a collaborative space and high-tech meeting rooms.
New elevators, ramps, automatic doors, tactile surfaces, accessible entrances and universal washrooms were integral to the design to meet the University’s strategic priorities of creating a welcoming campus.
Classrooms are fitted with moveable furniture for a variety of teaching and learning needs and are equipped with advanced, hyflex communications and presentation technology to reach a broader group of experts, mentors, and audiences beyond campus.
“Windsor Law has a strong commitment to the community, and the transformed building is opening new doors to connect with our indigenous, local, and legal community. It was critical for us to work closely with the architects to ensure the mission, vision and values of the faculty were reflected in every new design feature and element of the retrofit. Accessibility, wellness, and inclusiveness are embedded in our practice, and it was important for it to be a physical part of the building,” Bahdi added.
"Thanks to the support of our dedicated friends and alumni, we have reinvented the Windsor Law building to reflect the needs of the next generation of diverse law students and scholars who can now teach, learn, and serve their communities in a dynamic new setting.”
Several committed partners contributed to the success of this project, including award-winning Diamond Schmitt's Architect Firm, EllisDon Corporation, Fortis Construction Group, and Windsor Law's community, and together raised almost $6 million, including a donation of $3 million from the Don Rodzik Foundation and significant pledges from Windsor Law alumni Allan J. Stitt and John Bitove.
“Today, we celebrate not just the physical renovation of our law school, but the enduring spirit of generosity and belief in the power of education and the importance of nurturing a sense of shared purpose,” said President Robert Gordon.
“We are grateful for the support of the Don Rodzik Foundation for helping us create a lasting legacy through knowledge creation and by fostering an ethos of giving back and a commitment to creative positive change in the world.”
To commemorate this momentous transformation, Windsor Law will hold a grand reopening celebration on October 27 and 28.
To learn more about Transforming Windsor Law visit us at uwindsor.ca/law/twl.