Being Nowhere
Circus Tradition
Class Politics
Enormous Loss
Haditha Tragedy
Homeless Being
Illegal Camping Ordinance
Journalism Priviledge
Keep Us Safe
Leadership and the People

Lesser Evils
Lynching Iraq
News for Working People
Nice Cops
Palestinian Democracy
Poison Fish
Political Communication
Selective Memory
Vestigial Entrances

Vestigial Entrances

Sarasota seems to be making a place for itself in the era of the vestigial entrance. A fair number of our new buildings, residential and commercial, incorporate entrance structures that are not likely to see much use. Some of the town houses fronting on Fruitville Rd. abut tiny, perpetually deserted sidewalks not likely to see many passengers discharged from the crush of Fruitville traffic. And Whole Foods made its feelings known about Duany walkability in general and city bus passengers in particular by turning its back on everything but its own parking facility.

The list goes on. The lovely glass medical building on South Tamiami near Bahia Vista felt obliged to build a grand entrance structure even though all of its traffic comes from the rear parking lot. Likewise, the new office building at Ringling and Orange with its grecian skull cap boasts a miniature and thoroughly deserted rotunda. [Working hypothesis: the less effective a structure the more likely it will be festooned with pillars.]

The importance of entrance passages is well known. From the simple pile of stones in front of thatched huts to the grand halls of the aristocracy and nouveau riche, they indicate a transition from not mine to mine, and therefore the inauguration of new rules of privilege and deference, tolerance and courtesy.




Within our lifetime, New York City dramatically changed its ambiance by insisting that the ground floor of massive buildings recognize the public aspect of their use even though title to the dirt may be privately held. More often than not the result has been a spectacular infusion of city life.

Some of the early big box stores enlisted architects who took the problem seriously. A key player was the SITE group [Sculpture in the Environment] and its projects for the Best Products stores, one which moved the entrance doors way out into the parking lot where they stood in splendid isolation yards away from a building that seemed to have no access point at all. It was a prescient moment.

Our conventional architecture has reattached the entrance doors to the building but failed to add any purpose. And perhaps that is why the honesty of the Whole Foods approach seems so brutal. When someone turns away it certainly warms the chill if they have a smiley face painted on the back of their head.













©Al Katz • Prof. of law SUNY, Buffalo, 1969-1989 (ret.)