A generous concourse offers ample opportunities for incorporating social spaces into what would otherwise exist solely as a pedestrian thoroughfare. Helping enliven the trip between point A and point B might be a café, an informal seating area or an overlook into an activity space - or one such area that incorporates all three.

One detail often found in the world of civic centers and museums is the open stair that serves as an amphitheater for informal gatherings, as well as movies, meetings and other programmed events. This example, which follows the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Campus Recreation Center's sloped site, shows the typical stadium-seating particulars of steps with 8-inch risers and 12-inch treads, and bench seating that doubles those dimensions. The stairs are made of durable slate, while the benches are inset wood that matches the adjacent wood accent wall, giving the area a softer, more sumptuous feel. Note, also, an important safety consideration put in place by Sasaki Associates Inc. of Watertown, Mass. - a wooden bench at the top of the seating area that serves as the amphitheater's guardrail.