I went to the new UNT student union today for the first time. It has certainly be the subject of a great deal of hype and hoopla. My expectations were high. They came crashing down.
The front entrance escorts you into a narrow stair case with a ‘corner store’ off to the side. Nothing grand or inspiring about it – very utilitarian. Up the stairs is more of the same narrow and cramped feeling now made worse with a low ceiling. Then off to one side of the hallway is a string of restaurants – the usual suspects like Chik Fil A. Students, looking at their phones, stand in lines that spill into the narrow hallway as they wait for their ‘american fare.’ Then, they either take it to go or they sit down in a spartan, harshly lit space littered with white columns and skeletal tables and chairs.
In short, it looks like strip mall development indoors: Roadways, fastfood, drive-thrus, and parking lots. The overall feeling is definitely one of moving on through. It certainly didn’t inspire any sense of ‘union’ for me — no space to gather, no public art to take pride in, no sense of transcendent community or tradition, nothing warm and inviting. Just like being at a strip mall on university ave I didn’t want to linger…just grab my food and go. It’s a nowhere kind of feeling, like an airport terminal – sleek, robotic, functional, sterile, cheap. I mean: wow, how modern!