A space for the students
As Bowdoin adds another memorial for its favorite son, one may wonder what the college can do to enhance its students' and community's experience. While the new Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain statue pays respect to an important figure in both Brunswick and U.S. history, its practical use is minimal.
One of the most beneficial spaces on campus, Smith Union, is only accessible for half the day. Hawthorne-Longfellow library closes at 1:00 a.m. and while the atrium is open all night, its personality resembles that of a parking garage more than a study space. One student commented, "It's more sterile than Bob Dole and less charismatic than Dick Cheney." The union has more color and character in one chair than the atrium as a whole and doesn't give a late night visitor the feeling of walking through an empty post-9/11 airport.
The student union offers a range of pleasant spots that are not compromised by a lack of outside light. Morrell Lounge and the Cafe would be an optimal late-night meeting place for conversation, studying, or television. Internet access, bathroom facilities, and an excess of seating are available in an easily controlled space. Bowdoin's classrooms are designed with intimacy and aesthetics in mind (Cleveland 151 not included); it seems illogical to limit the use of the union.
As the end of each semester nears, a majority of the students are in need of a nightly study area. Come reading period, the atrium is unavoidably packed and its undivided space is not conducive to a congenial atmosphere. As at least two security guards on campus are always on call, one could make rounds in Smith Union each hour if the College is worried about safety or theft. In addition, card scanners installed at the entrance by Dudley Coe would allow Bowdoin to monitor those who enter.
In addition, preparations for a seventeenth-floor Coles lounge or accessible space should be considered. While it is less important than an unadulterated right to use the union, the tower's elevation should be utilized. Specifically, a one-floor structure dominated by glass walls would provide both students and the greater Brunswick community with spectacular views. As the only scar on campus, a 360-degree view would compensate for the towering brick composition. And there'd be one more stop on prospective tours.