A year ago, Wake Forest students returned to campus after the summer to find that a beloved campus staple, the Campus Grounds coffee shop, had changed forever in the wake of the renovations of Taylor Residence Hall.
Once homey, cozy and grungy in a lovable way, Campus Grounds was rendered aseptic, impersonal and far less welcoming. The coffee shop once boasted scores of comfortable chairs in which one could settle for long hours of studying; now, combined with the Taylor lounge, there is barely any space to sit, and the environment does not encourage leisure.
Campus Grounds was once a place where students, faculty and staff alike could gather for an intellectual communion — the energy of the space invited long, academically stimulating conversations. It was also a place where students could gather for mirth amongst the stress of everyday life; in the old Campus Grounds space, dozens of students could fit to enjoy Wake People Laugh comedy shows. Although Campus Grounds still serves great coffee and is still an essential element of campus life, there is something special that has been lost.
On Wake Forest’s campus, spaces that feel like they are truly the product of students’ visions are rare. Campus Grounds was one of these rare spaces.
The small, student-run coffee shop once featured an aesthetic that allowed students to forget they were on campus. It had a rare ability to transport students away from the stresses of academic life and into blissful reprive. In its current state, by no fault of its employees, Campus Grounds feels painfully standard. Its effortless warmth was replaced with the frigidity of flourescent lights and the rigidity of regular campus furniture.
Of course, the Taylor renovations required compromise. Whoever designed the new Campus Grounds likely had the best intentions, but the effect produced by the remodeled space will never match that of the mismatched, dimly-lit shop students grew to love.
Campus Grounds provided more than just coffee, and while the beverage quality has not faltered, it is no longer a space that invites students to linger and to relax.