Within the architectural diversity of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus, a campus with a spread and a variety as extended as that of the university community itself, there is a place apart: the Cook Law Quad. The distinct ambiance created by the quad's buildings seems at variance with the melange that marks the rest of the campus where the free growth of the university over a long period of time has resulted in structures of various styles and uneven levels of distinction. Yet the quad's special character is not simply a matter of its architectural unity, as is often claimed. There are a number of other quadrangles on the Ann Arbor campus that have single styles but lack its expressive force. The Law Quad's special capacity to function well and delight the eye while also expressing the ideals it is meant to embody is rare. Its ability to evoke a sense of place imbued with the spirit of collegiality while also suggesting a place where the intellect might be harbored, nurtured, and even elevated is striking. As they function, the buildings form a coherent and complete ensemble, allowing the manifold activities of a large law school to operate in a single center where students, faculty, and distinguished visitors of the legal profession can reside, dine, study, develop professional competence, and carry out broad-ranging research in an academic environment very like an academy or in the manner of the old English Inns of Court. The single architectural mode of the Cook Law Quad certainly enhances the cohesiveness of such academic goals, but there are also other, more intangible factors that affect its expression of ideals, such as the scale, disposition, and design of its structures; the articulation of these with color, texture, and decorative amenities such as ornamentation and inscriptions; and, finally, the massing of the forms, their impact on the spaces about them, and the associations conjured up by them. All of these contribute to the quad's art and to its ultimate effect.
Forsyth, Ilene H. The Uses of Art: Medieval Metaphor in the Michigan Law Quadrangle. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993.