It has been great to read the feedback people are sharing on the blog. A couple of comments about the value of running into neighbors encouraged us to think differently about the purpose of the landscape. The sense of community the campuses can generate is one of their highest purposes. Proposing to adjust the way residents move and interact in their daily lives is a big change that must be considered with the impact on neighborliness in mind.
We revisited an article about the "proximity effect." The theory stems from a study of students living in a dormitory who were shown to have a greater tendency to develop friendships with people whose rooms were close to one another or near staircases that caused them to see and interact with one another in regular, unplanned ways.
The same theory reportedly led Steve Jobs to require the architect of Pixar Animation Studios to locate attractions like lounges, kitchens, bathrooms, mailboxes, and meetings rooms in a central atrium. The design draws people into the shared space in order to encourage people to interact informally with one another.
Which led us to think about the design of the campuses relative to two questions:
Can we develop alternatives to security fencing that will maintain and encourage more of the "run-ins" residents enjoy in the north campus courtyard?
How can we encourage those "run-ins" in the south campus courtyard and the gardens around the stand-alone buildings?
We are developing sketches of a few of these spaces for the shareholder meeting next Monday, February 13, at 6:30pm in the Community Room in the cellar of Building 325. We will also post the sketches here for people who can't make the meeting.