A new face and more space for students and staff at Athens University’s decrepit law faculty

The Law School building on Solonos Street had for many years been one of the city’s eyesores. Smog-blackened walls, combined with the students’ inability to maintain even a minimal sense of aesthetic decorum, had resulted in the despoliation of what is otherwise an historic academic site. Anyone who has had cause to pass through the grounds of the building is familiar with the general chaos and visual pollution. The lecture halls were reminiscent of prewar Athens, and the infrastructure was almost non-existent. Athens University heads reached the conclusion that this unacceptable state of affairs could not go on forever, particularly since in recent years it has embarked on an ambitious attempt to record, evaluate and exploit to the full the university’s property assets in the city center. Although this program has not been progressing at any great speed, it has nevertheless given hopes for the restoration of its more important building complexes. Naturally enough, these concerns are not shared by the students who attend lectures in rented apartment space. Aesthetic improvement is just one aspect of the work being done in recent months at the Law School; the other, and perhaps more important, is to increase teaching space by 30 percent. The Hall of Theoretical Sciences, as the Law Faculty building is officially known, is being almost entirely rebuilt. Although work has not yet begun on the old building (facing Solonos Street) where only some of the walls are to be demolished, the rest of the complex will virtually be reconstructed. The change is also symbolic. The «new» Law School is getting a new main entrance, from the Massalias Street pedestrian precinct. The current entrance on Solonos Street will remain open as a gesture to history. The new entrance will include an atrium encircled by the facades of three buildings – on the left the extension of the old building (built in the early 1970s) where the largest number of amphitheaters is being built, in the center the two-story neoclassical building on Sina Street and on the right, the pink building, on which work is also being done by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Students and faculty members will enter through the Massalias Street extension. A smaller atrium covered with a metal roof lies between the old building and the extension. Both buildings will also be linked by hallways. All faculty members’ offices are to be transferred to 45 Academias St. An underground car park is being built underneath the atrium, with space for 110 cars and an entrance on Sina Street. Perhaps the biggest news is the builders’ decision to install use anti-graffiti material on the walls to discourage students from defacing it. Work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2004. The cost is being met by Athens University and a loan from the European Investment Bank. Meanwhile, reconstruction of Athens University buildings is proceeding apace. Bids have already been called for the most important project, the Chemistry Faculty building, including the refurbishment of the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Social Science Library within its precincts. Another important development is the inclusion of the Grypareio Hall on Sophocleous Street within the university’s core campus. After restoration, it will house the economic science and the media and communication faculties.