Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Atrium

Today I had occasion to work offsite.
In other words, spent the whole day in a building entirely foreign to me.
It was a beautiful, immense place.
So sprawling that the grounds can only be described as a “campus” and the buildings themselves, a “complex".

At lunchtime I wandered up to the fully-staffed cafeteria. There was a great assortment of fresh food to choose from, and a Menu to please just about anyone other than Gandhi! [You gotta admit. That guy was a bit picky!]
There is even a full-out bakery in this place, behind the counter of which, a guy was walking around with one of those big hats on.
Question: Why do bakers even NEED those hats?
Name one thing more superfluous in this world than the big enormous hat of a baker!

So I got some stuff and sat at a far-off table, so as not to be too distracted by all these people congregated in one area, chattering like a herd of chipmunks.
Opened my book.
Munched on my carrot cake and sipped coffee that was profoundly NOT Starbucks.
Afterwards, I got up and walked to the edge of the cafeteria level and looked out over the sprawling atrium of the place. The inner court, down below and up above.
I instantly felt quieted. At peace.
There are trees down there, and all manner of [real] plant-life. Flowers. Rocks. A bubbling fountain. Just a real lot of air… empty space. I would not have been surprised to see a monkey swing by on a vine.
Windowed offices towering high on all sides, up, up, up.
And I found myself thinking how fun it would be to have wings.
The atrium achieved what is was DESIGNED to achieve, before my analytical mind kicked in and realized that it had done so.

The atrium is a wonderful phenomenon, I think.
Look at the amount of SPACE that architects are “building” into today’s mega-structures.
It is amazing how much we need, and want to see, and feel → space.

Shopping malls → museums → libraries → galleries → office buildings.
Even some mega-bookstores.
Even the hotel resort I stayed at, in Puerta Vallarta. It had a gorgeous atrium, viewable from all floors. And there, the atrium was even truer to its original definition, being “open-roofed.”
When one considers the cost per square foot of realtor-controlled commercial space, it boggles the mind how impractical the best architects can be!
But it amounts to impractical wizardry.
Because it works.
It amounts to art, because it is embellishment.
Beyond the necessary, yet there.
Like a baker’s big huge, space-filled hat.



Beth said...

And what would life be like without "impractical wizardry," "art," "embellishment" and all that is "beyond the necessary?"
We need all of those things.
(Great post.)

cipriano said...

I agree Beth.
[That it was a great post]!
No, but seriously... I agree that we need these spaces. We need the art of them.
I love even how the Eaton Center [it's not called this anymore is it?]... but I love how it is so wide open.
Those geese flying through it?

Just like I love the narwhals floating in space in the atrium of the World Exchange Plaza, here in Ottawa.


Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

I am in a practical mood*) today, so let me answer your question:
"Why do bakers even NEED those hats?
To hide the airconditiong equipment in there, stylishly.
You like hair in your bread???

Don't ask about any other mood, I only whisper: Deep cellar. *yep*

Stefanie said...

The atrium sounds beautiful. My downtown library has a lovely one that goes all the way up and has bridges running from side to side on each floor. When I go there I love to up, don't like looking down too much though, makes me a bit woozy, but looking up, so much space, it really is breathtaking.

cipriano said...

I love your theory about what is going on inside the hats!

Stefanie: I remember you posting an image of the very Atrium in question. It was gorgeous, the new Library.