During the Christmas holidays in 1965, the Faculty of Laws moved into Bentham House. As one of the oldest, as well as the largest, faculties at UCL, the new building provided our 35 members of staff and almost 500 students with valuable extra space.
35 years later, we were bursting at the seams of Bentham House, and in 2001 the Faculty took advantage of the opportunity to purchase neighbouring building, Hillel House. After renovations to the building’s upper floors, the Gideon Schreier Wing was completed in October 2001, and in 2011, following extensive works to drain the River Fleet’s waters from what is now the Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, the ground and basement floors were opened as the Graduate Wing.
These crucial developments would not have been possible without the generosity and continuing support of our alumni, donors and sponsors, and we owe particular thanks to the late Sir Bernard Schreier for the Gideon Schreier Wing, to Vincent Cheung (LLB 1965) for the Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, and to Winston Chu (LLB, 1960) for the Cissy Chu Common room.
Today, our Faculty has 109 members of staff and over 1000 students. Alongside lectures and tutorials, we host a range of specialist research and pro bono initiatives at Bentham House, including the Bentham Project, the UCL Centre for Access to Justice, as well as numerous research centres, the student Law Society and the UK’s only Notarial Practice Course.
But it’s not just our students and staff who use Bentham House. Every day, we welcome legal professionals and members of the public to our events, which cover the full gamut of legal and regulatory issues and thinking.
UCL has also grown significantly too over the past ten years, and space across campus is limited. Our buildings are now at maximum occupancy, while access and navigation between Bentham House and the Gideon Schreier and the Graduate Wings can be challenging at the best of times. We have run out of room, and the space that we do have is fragmented and in serious need of attention.
In working to resolve these problems and create a building that is fit for purpose, architects Levitt Bernstein have designed a transformative £18.5m plan to connect our past with our future, creating an entity both singular and distinct in its parts. The proposed designs will protect and improve our much-loved Bentham House, providing:
- A large reception area, linking directly to a bright and spacious central café and social hub, directly adjoining teaching and event spaces.
- Better connections between the buildings on all upper floors.
- Cutting-edge teaching and event spaces with greater capacity.
- New student and staff common rooms.
- New offices, meeting spaces and computer cluster rooms.
- A specialist study suite for graduate research students.
The redevelopment work will take some time to complete, but the new Bentham House should see through us the next stage of the Faculty and UCL’s strategy to 2034 and beyond in grand style.