SCULPTURAL The Pirelli Tire Building in New Haven.

But at CCRI, Levitt says, "It was utopian in the sense that they were thinking about connecting different vocations. The architecture pushes you to meet other vocations, or other people . . . Even in UMass Dartmouth, the stairs are shallow so you are forced to slow down and look around and enjoy it. Or are forced to talk to other people because you meet them there. You cannot run on those stairs. There's a lot of stuff the architecture does that is kind of enabling some kind of communication, or some kind of egalitarian vision of the society or these educational institutions that on the other hand do look like factories for education with all this imposing grayness that swallows students and spits them out."

Levitt notes, "A lot of times what you see now is not what they wanted to do. That was my biggest surprise at CCRI. The intention was different. There was so much more light. There was so much more color."

But colors were lost when worn carpets were replaced with duller versions. Light disappeared when precious space was divided up to squeeze in more classrooms.

"So all of a sudden there's this dark environment that people are complaining about," Levitt says. "[The] UMass Dartmouth library got renovated and they brought all the original colors back. And it's amazing — purples and oranges and reds, quite beautiful.

"You know when you see an ugly dog and you go, 'Oh my God, that dog is so ugly. That is really lovely. Oh my God, he's so cute,' " she says. "He's like a pug with that nose. For me, it's a little like that. The more imposing the better . . . It's so insensitive to its environment, I love it. But I see why people can hate them. It is really hard to connect with them. You do feel small walking around, and lost. You do actually get lost physically many times there and have to ask for directions."

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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