Sensational seats offer refuge for weariest of behinds

It’s undeniable that Lewis & Clark is a beautiful place. Campus is comprised of the Tudor-style Frank Manor House dominating the middle of the grounds, the extensive, tiered garden and all the paths, buildings and lawns both new and old dotting this humble spot upon Palatine Hill. I find myself glad to have so many beautiful places to simply sit down and relax. There is no rush, no work, no competition—just me and the great outdoors.

But what if we made it competitive? Of all the places to relax, what spot proves the most comfortable? The most beautiful? The most central to our community? 

Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of places that one could be inclined to sit, this ranking will be limited to a single object of study: the bench. A bench, for those unaware, is an elevated platform, typically of wood, made with the intent of seating multiple people. They can have an attached back, or, in the cases of the picnic bench, even a table, but neither of these are necessary. A good bench should be sturdy, well-placed in terms of both beauty and community and, most of all, comfortable.

Beginning with our first bench, we have the humble wood-planked concrete blocks found outside the main entrance to Fowler and in front of the Odell Annex. These benches are simple and modern in design, feeling both sturdy and comfortable to sit upon. However, they lack backings, which is unfortunate and are rarely sat upon. The places that they are situated in are more transitional spaces than destinations. Overall, a fine bench, albeit overlooked.

Comfort: 6/10
Beauty: 4/10
Structure: 9/10
Community: 2/10
Overall: 4 /10

Next, we have the round, orange-enameled picnic table benches situated outside the Bon, directly in front of the Pio’s Fowler stop. The grated nature of these benches feels similar to chicken wire, both in appearance and comfort. They are cold to the touch, even when it is warm and cannot be sat upon for long before growing uncomfortable. However, they are placed in an absolutely prime location, being an excellent spot to wait for the bus, eat the Bon’s finest cuisine or to simply relax and study. A bench here is necessary—I just wish it were a different one.

Comfort: 3/10
Beauty: 4/10
Structure: 7/10
Community: 8/10
Overall: 6 /10

Pivoting to a more ubiquitous seat, we have the humble wooden picnic bench. These specimens can be found throughout campus wherever grass is present, especially on the lawns in front of the Frank Manor House. They are well-worn and well-loved, their wood pitted with age and stained with substances created by man and bird alike. They rock noticeably when one sits down or moves side-to-side, but this is not of much concern. The company that one keeps at these benches is what gives them their value.

Comfort: 5/10
Beauty: 6/10
Structure: 2/10
Community: 10/10
Overall: 8 /10

After that, we have a relatively unknown instance in the benchosphere: the two stone benches placed directly outside of the Manor House. These benches, interred within a stone circle and ascribed to former groundsman Kenneth Lowell, often go unnoticed and with good reason. Despite their stony construction, they tilt and clatter whenever the weight upon them shifts. They are coated in moss and lichen, and are perpetually cold to the touch, due to their location being firmly shadowed for most of the day. These benches are interesting to look at, but not to sit on.

Comfort: 2/10
Beauty: 4/10
Structure: 3/10
Community: 4/10
Overall: 3/10

The next specimen is a wooden one, found in many places throughout the campus, such as in front of the Pio stop, surrounding the circle lawn and in front of Pamplin. These benches are humble, but all clearly cut from the same stock. They have backs, armrests, and rounded seats, providing an incredibly comfortable experience. However, their placement is, again, questionable at best. These are not placed at destinations, but in places meant to pass through.

Comfort: 9/10
Beauty: 6/10
Structure: 7/10
Community: 2/10
Overall: 7/10

An often-spoken debate (or one that should be often-spoken) among LC students follows this entity. It lurks in darkened corners, between halls of brick and concrete, waiting patiently for its moment to strike its poisoned fear into the hearts of all that witness its eldritch design. I am, of course, speaking of the large blocks of stone surrounding JR Howard Hall. The question posed at these hulking obelisks is simple: is it a bench, or is it something more mysterious? That said, everyone and their mother congregates at these benches between classes, and on a sunny day, that is a perfect recipe for community building.

Comfort: 8/10
Beauty: 7/10
Structure: 10/10
Community: 8/10
Overall: 8 /10

All in all, the benches of LC are varied in all their aspects, from comfort to the views that can be seen from them to the company you keep while seated on one. However, the perspectives stated in this article are singular. Much like the view from a bench, it only sees from a singular perspective. Get up, take a walk. Experience the benches of LC, and form your own opinions thereof.

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