Powerhouse Gives Students New Party Place
Issue   |   Wed, 09/10/2014 - 03:19

Sweaty bodies and the grungy death wish appeal of the socials definitely have a home in the hearts of many Amherst students, but the Powerhouse brings new and exciting possibilities to the college’s social scene. By bridging excitement and a semblance of human dignity, the Powerhouse could serve as the new party scene on campus.

The fact that the Powerhouse is a public social space, one that is the domain of no particular organization, is perhaps its greatest contribution to the culture of Amherst. It has the potential to open up avenues of mingling between different social groups and facilitate intercourse between the different niches that fracture the campus. Although the socials cannot be accurately characterized as “private” or “exclusive” spaces, they inherently foster less social diversity because they are occupied by closely knit student communities.

A thoughtful design process is evident in the layout and the features of the Powerhouse. Whereas the vibe of the Keefe Campus Center awkwardly straddles the fence between a gentleman’s club and a Chuck E. Cheeses for very mature children, the Powerhouse is clearly primed to be a space for student activities. The décor is modeled with a nightclub aesthetic, everything from the pipes to the benches outside covered in a film of ever so trendy rust. The large doors leading out to the patio allow for a convenient escape route to anyone on the run from an overeager dance partner. The counters in the attractive modern bathrooms are more than adequately classy enough for students to do a quick line of cocaine in between DJ sets.

The versatility of the space is unparalleled by any other space on campus and gives rise to many possible activities. The combination of the computerized light show, the powerful speakers and the raised platforms on either side of the central dance floor suggest that the Powerhouse would be an ideal space for live concerts, especially EDM shows, which rely heavily on all three elements. On the other end of the spectrum, the flashing club lights could easily be turned off for modern art exhibitions or research summary showcases that hosting student work during the weekdays. The purposely informal design of the space, however, does pose a limitation: the peeling paint and rusty pipes of the Powerhouse would be ill-suited as a venue for more formal events. This doesn’t pose a problem, however, in the grand scheme of things because Amherst has more than enough dignified venues for events that require pomp and circumstance.

The popularity of the Powerhouse during its nighttime debut is a reminder that Amherst is not only a school dedicated to great thinking, but that it is also a place enthusiastic about having clean and unquestionably sober fun. In funding the project, the administration deserves significant kudos for responding to the call for more vibrant student spaces following the recently imposed restrictions banning fraternities. The requests for student input to help determine how the space should be utilized in the future clearly shows a strong commitment toward making the space one that is truly what the student body desires.

It is important to remember that the Powerhouse remains a place that can be molded into whatever students want it to be. The sound system has no greater preference for slam poetry than it does for the other kinds of noise, even if that noise happens to be the incoherent rambling of country music. The space is open to interpretation and its functions are still to be imagined by those who are willing to contribute their ideas about what the Powerhouse should be.

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Comments
Ashton (not verified) says:
Sat, 11/07/2015 - 09:59

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