Last week I wrote a post called Disorganized thoughts on place. I was kinda freaking out at the time. Anyway, at the bottom I gave myself some prompts for future posts, and this one looked pretty good:
- What do I actually want in a public space, apart from “They aren’t constantly trying to get you to spend money?”
So, here's my fantasy public building.
- Someplace big and multi-functional, so the DMV and the library and the post office and maybe the courthouse are all in the same place. I want there to be real, specific reasons to go there, but I want there to be enough going on there that nobody should feel like they have to leave because they aren't there to accomplish any particular goal.
- I want it open 24/7. It doesn't have to all be open, and it doesn't have to have, like, beds and stuff. Going there at 3 a.m. could be like going to a truck stop at 3 a.m., with tables in the middle and one shop still open, but I want to be able to go there in the middle of the night when I have no other place to go.
- A cafeteria, with good, real options for food. It doesn't have to be a restaurant, or, like, a destination on its own. It could be a cafeteria of the sort you'd expect in any large building where a lot of people work. But I want food options beyond burgers, fries, candy bars, and I want them priced for covering-costs, not turning-a-large-enough-profit-to-build-a-franchise.
- Variety of seating and surfaces. I want tall cafe tables, benches, comfy chairs, low tables with lots of seats, and sit-able ledges.
- Large, comfortable neutral space. I want to be able to go there and sit down and not have to be in the courthouse or library or DMV or post office or cafeteria.
- Power outlets.
- I want the place to be taken care of. I want the town to treat it like it's a place that matters, and invest in its quality and maintenance not because they expect it to give them significant gains, but because that building is among the services that the city provides -- I want the building to be treated, by the local government and the community, like providing that space for the comfort of citizens is a worthwhile end unto itself.
- Gender-neutral bathrooms.
- I want security/cops/w.e to be present enough that a fight couldn't break out, but only that far and no farther. Except in places where they're more necessary, like within the courtroom wing, I want to feel like I'm not being watched in particular.
- Several well-outfitted multi-purpose rooms.
- A pool, and/or a gym.
- Positive treatment of teenagers and young people in general.
- Minimal or no advertising of organized interests. No military recruitment booth there every day. No stands advertising tickets to a nearby attraction.