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Building Overview: Austin Hall

The first building constructed specifically for Harvard Law School, Austin Hall opened in 1883. The building signified a new era in the Law School's history, far removed from its humble beginnings in a single room belonging to Harvard College.

Designed by famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson, its entryway features sweeping arches in the Romanesque Revival style. Close inspection reveals the intricate carvings of faces and mythological creatures that serve as the building's year-round welcoming committee. Additional arches are to be found on the first floor, which houses three large classrooms.

Located on the second floor is the Ames courtroom, named for Dean James Barr Ames (1895-1910). Originally serving as the law library, the courtroom's uses have been expanded to include everything from mock trials argued by second and third year students under the direction of practicing judges (including Supreme Court justices) to real cases of the Supreme Court of the Navajo Nation. In addition to the immense fireplace that occupies most of the rear wall, the courtroom's other magnificent feature is the carved wooden ceiling beams that stretch the entire width of the room.

Offices in Austin Hall include the Harvard Law Admissions Office, the East Asian Legal Studies, Harvard Mediation Program, and the Islamic Legal Studies Program.

Last modified: October 29, 2013

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