24 October, 2002
Our college literature constantly invokes the new Union's ability to unite us as a community. As spacious and public as a mall, it monopolizes campus facilities and sometimes causes us to complain that we never seem to be anywhere else.
The kind of community the Union promotes is one of visibility. The rationale is that visual relationships between people will produce actual ones. You put a critical density of students in a confined space, incorporate there a large part of their daily routines, and they'll eventually settle into an neat array of affable, well adjusted individuals. Our particular brand of community creates a convincing appearance of intimacy.
Yet I find that I feel the strongest sense of community not when I'm navigating these relentlessly public spaces, but when I've found the odd quiet moment with a friend, or even alone. Perhaps these moments were more easily discovered when we had more places to walk--when getting our coffee, our mail, and our ice cream required crossing a street instead of a room.
Of course we should enjoy our nice, centralized buildings, but we shouldn't allow the public brand of community they promote to crowd out the intimacies we must develop outside of them. Well planned architecture may bring us together, but it won't do the talking; open spaces achieve nothing for closed people.
--l a m a r