Outside looking in, though a glass darkly.
With the reopening of the courtyard, attention now turns to the Sansom Street face and the inside of Golkin Hall. From Sansom, the work on and inside the entrance obscures what promises to be the most significant architectural achievement for the Penn community: opening up and connecting the courtyard to the street, while providing a sense of arrival to the new Penn Law comparable to that up the Chestnut Street steps into Silverman. From the courtyard, we have access to the windows lining the Golkin Hall corridor, but the dust, debris and activity on the inside obscure that view as well.
From both sides, we are on the outside looking in, through a glass darkly. Overused metaphors, surely, but still useful for the law school experience and the law. On the far, far side of that experience, and well into a life in the law, I can report that the glass does become clearer; there will be many opportunities to look out from the inside. Before long, it will be hard to remember what it was like before – before Golkin Hall was complete here at Penn and before a life in, or informed by, the law.
Watching the transition from before to after is one of the joys of a law professor, and, I imagine, of architects and builders. Law professors work with lives and institutions, not buildings, and we have nothing approaching their influence or control. But we have some of the same aspirations as the designers and builders of Golkin Hall: connecting Penn Law to the outside world, opening up the law itself to outside view, bringing the outside in, and, maybe even, constructing something beautiful, useful, and lasting.
Post by Tom Baker, Deputy Dean and William Maul Measey Professor of Law and Health Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Law School