Editorial: I’d Like to See Someone Try To Design a More Inane Law School Building. Srsly.
By Jerome Prince, Dean, Brooklyn Law School (1945-1971)
It has recently come to my attention that a lot of new age architects, trustees, and law school deans out there have been talking a lot of shit. According to my younger, blog-reading friend Benjamin, these aforementioned assholes are all over the internets boasting possession of law school blueprints alleged to be more puzzling, inane, and myopic than the epic shitshow that I helped design- the one that currently stands at 250 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Law School (BLS). Upon hearing of such simpleton drivel, I instinctively spewed my anemic, translucent, school cafeteria-brewed coffee all over my expensive mahogany desk and decided that I just would not stand idly by while my beloved institution of higher learning yet again played the part of butt to the legal community’s joke . Consider this an unequivocal solicitation to any clown out there who thinks he can build a law school building as ironically devoid of all reason and logic as BLS; what you got? Ha, I’ll tell you. You. Aint. Got. Shit.
Perhaps it is best to tell the tale of BLS’ maddeningly foolhardy design against the backdrop of its fruition. I know a whole lot of you were history majors at university, so how about one last history lesson for all y’all? Picture yourself in my spacious, lush, deanish office in 1968, in the company of esteemed Trustee Board President Henry L. Ughetta, architect Harvey P. Whipplestein, and yours truly.
The enviable task of designing what would become the BLS of the future had fallen upon our broad, chiseled shoulders, and we have convened to articulate a shared vision. My tongue and lips gracefully begin their hypnotizing dance of annunciation, and my words soon loom prophetic:
— At the foundation of my vision lay a clusterfuck of angry students- in the lobby, ten minutes before every major lecture class, stampeding each other in pursuit of the one available elevator. There will be four elevators, of course, that’s the beauty of it, but for absolutely no good reason, only two will be in operation at peak times. Where are the other two elevators, you ask? Why, sitting ever so stubbornly on the 6th and 9th floors of course! Please, cease your hand wringing at once! For the witching hour is upon us, my friends, and so when the Borough Hall clock tower strikes midnight, all four elevators will be found standing wide open in the lobby, at your service.
Now, the 40-50 unlucky students who aren’t agile enough to catch a fleeting elevator, or who lack the social connectivity needed to compel an acquaintance to hit the “door open” button, will be forced to climb six flights of stairs, all whilst lugging 40+ pounds of absurdly expensive textbooks. The scene will be reminiscent of that part in White Fang where an exhausted but determined line of prospectors trudge slowly up the side of the mountain on a stairway carved out of ice, steadfastly pursuing their dreams in the face of harsh conditions and an astronomically miniscule likelihood of career success. Yet the students will trudge onward and upward to the heavens where boredom, debt, and gchat await!
Some will not make it- no, some will perish along the way to 6th floor property or con law, collapsing in exhaustion as the students behind him finish him off with an Ugg-to-the-throat. Still others break camp for the winter and attempt the rest of the climb under fairer conditions, and a few will even turn to Donner party cannibalism after finding the 4th floor cafeteria closed for a “special event.” Those who do survive the grueling ascent to class may wish to quench their hypoxic thirst with a drink from the cool, refreshing waters of a drinking fountain. But alas, not on Jerome Prince’s watch! You see, each and every water fountain on every single floor shall dispense only the most tepid water known to man; water so lukewarm and infused with air bubbles it takes on the appearance and quality of diluted skim milk, and tastes of metals and other exotic elements from aaaaall over the world. Should the student instead venture to the bathroom to relieve himself after his journey from base camp, he will be lucky to find dividers between the urinals or urinal cakes within them. I pity the poor soul who finds it necessary to visit a bathroom stall; if he can even lock the door, he will soon find his unmentionable antics on display to any passersby through the 3-inch gap in the doorjamb.
If the student manages to overcome his fear of essentially doing his business in public, he will continue on to class, and find himself a seat in his visiting professor’s class.
The chair upon which he is seated inexplicably hinges backward, under even the slightest pressure, halfway down his back. This lack of any lumbar support will lead to pinched nerves and herniated disks, ensuring years of physical pain to accompany the mental anguish of massive debt and inability to purchase adequate medical insurance. His visiting professor, due to his inability to structure a lecture, will breach the school’s policy of providing a ten-minute break in the middle of a two-hour class, which will lead to a rash of bladder infections and hypoglycemic seizures. If he makes a brazen break for it, he very well may stumble down the awkwardly-spaced classroom steps and faceplant in front of the entire class. Just desserts, if you ask me!
After class, the Goofus law student will head to the student lounge for some rest and relaxation, so long as his visit doesn’t fall within the 2-hour time period when a student would want to use it most: a reasonable man’s lunchtime. You see, at my poorly designed law school, we will routinely hold guest lecture events and sparsely-attended luncheons during the only time a student is likely to desire a student lounge, and we will have our guards/bulldogs “clear the room” 30 minutes prior to such events. Though these events will be open to all members of the school community, the room must be cleared. Get the fuck out!
The Gallant law student, on the other hand, will continue straight on to the library. He might pause momentarily at the high school-esque glass encased bulletin board, to see if he made moot court- after a mandatory tryout- or if he has been relegated once again to the chorus; this information won’t be transmitted via electronic mail to him, as with all other school-related correspondence, it will be posted on a single piece of paper in the lobby at an unannounced time.
After turning sideways to pass through the construction-narrowed library doorway, the student will walk past the student librarians doing their homework, past the sullen WestLaw table lady, and into the library stairwell. Here he will make an important decision: descend into the fluorescent bowels of the basement- awash with study rooms full of stagnant air and despair- or continue upward to the 2nd floor reading rooms full of backed-up-sewage air saturated with SARS, and crawling with coughing/hacking students, loud cell phone conversations, and stacks and stacks of ancient law reporters, long fallen into disuse. In fact, the seldom used reporters will take up the majority of the library’s precious floor space, and will play an integral role in the chronic shortage of seats during finals time. Sure, we could move some of those stacks and stacks of dust-covered ancient texts to the archives, but what would we tell the obscure researcher! Besides, the FDNY won’t let us cram any more students in anyways because we only have one, frighteningly narrow means of egress.–
Egads, I’ve done it again! I’ve gone and downed one too many glasses of port and rambled the afternoon away, my friends. By now, however, my design genius should be readily apparent. If there remains a trustee, dean, architect or mouth breather out there who thinks he/she can design a more ass-backwards law school, why don’t you put your money where your slack-jawed mouth is before I go ‘an find something more appealin’ to put in there. PEACE.
Dean Formerly Known As Jerome Prince (1945-1971, bitches)