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The Dallas Infomart

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

It is about 3:30pm as I sit here beside the beautiful glass elevators of the Infomart in Dallas. The infomart is a very open place. A copy of the Crystal Palace from Queen Victoria’s day. Glass is the most dominant feature of the place so that even in the winter on an overcast day the building is flooded with light.

The arching roof looks down on a long courtyard with a glass fountain that look as if it could have graced the original expedition. There is also an escalator which is illuminated from underneath by green lights. That was certainly not found in the original.

This glass confection houses the offices of many companies. Mostly those in the computer and telecom industries. If you look around, which is easy to do, you see that most people are relaxed and dressed in casual and business casual clothes which consist mostly of simple shirts of one color or design without slogans, and pants or trousers. Some wear suits open with a tie. Men wear long or short sleeved collared shirts. Women wear skits and heels or pants with low heels. A few go by in jeans and boots. This is Texas after-all.

The walls are littered with printed images of light bulbs, ocilliscope screens, and images of famous people in computer history. Pascal, Ada, etc. The rooms on the seventh floor are also named for these computer icons.

A crowd of about one hundred people pour out of a room beside me and they flow around us laughing and talking. Their voices echoing off of the walls as they pass toward the elevators and the escalator holding tightly to paper certificates from some class that they have taken.

I decide to go to the sixth floor to see if there are also classrooms there. Each room has a brightly colored sheet listing emergency services, Dallas Human Resources, Publicity, Breakout sessions. Things of interest to those taking the class.

I can see that I don’t quite fit in as I rush over and pick up my kids. My hair rapidly braided, I am wearing black sweat pants and a T-shirt blazened with the word Sydney and a drawing of the opera house. My route 66 fanny pack seems out of place among the brief cases. Even so, as I look up at the wires and cables that raise and lower the elevators open and exposed in silvery-black perfection, as I listen to the tinkling sound of the water which merges with the sound of the elevator in its attempt to fill the cold and cavernous hall, I realize that looks can be deceiving. Luckily, no one is willing to call me on it today. That is good because I know that some of the biggest companies have been started by people who go out of the house wearing mis-matched socks.

A lacy ironwork fence sits about 3 feet high. The openness is a bit too much for my husband who says that this place makes him realize that you can have a design that is too open. He holds tightly to my daughter’s hand as he peers over a short escalator railing seven floors above certain death.

I go down a hallway and catch a glimpse of the view outside through a glass window as viewed through a doorway. There is a huge empty office space with bits of cubicles lying in the floor. The floor is carpet tile with remnants of a logo from the previous owner. It is littered with pieces of tape and cardboard. The abandoned tan cubicles hold the stray tails of telephone cables which lay stretched out across the carpet like the tentacles of a beached jellyfish.

Brown paper covers the windows. The corner of one is torn open revealing mirror-like glass columns reflecting the sign of a high-tech campus. While nearby offices are full of people, the red Plone boxes here are for decor only and they contain nothing.

There are a row of TV’s in the lobby showing snapshots of a fallen U.S. Serviceman. A convenience store for tourists hosts a magazine rack. The high-tech bar closed at five. The receptionist has already gone home. It seems the crystal palace is now closed.

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