Late the morning after, I stepped aboard one last train, a ride of no more than thirty minutes, from the open experiment in architectural memorialization that was Frankfurt to Hessen’s regional capital, Mainz. In truth, I was there to visit but only by half-measure as I came to the conference and work which had set my train trip in motion. I managed to find the hotel without difficulty, as well as the university liaison with information and schedule at the ready. I retired to my room for a time to freshen up and spent some time staring at the walls in preparation, as it were, for the conference where I would spend the bulk of my time indoors following convoluted, nigh incomprehensible musing all the day.
Shortly thereafter, I rejoined the university liaison and some twenty other participants with whom I briefly exchanged the barest of personal information. Faced with the general lack of punctuality, the liaison grew increasingly agitated until we at last struck out for the university’s main campus atop one of the overlooking hills. The university’s assortment of buildings provided some diversion in that its central cluster consisted of military barracks formerly at the city’s outskirts and made to the city by the French military later in the post-war era.
Flagstone-lined paths brought out group to one-time gatehouses, imposing though restrained constructions of grey sandstone and steeply peaked, tiled roofs. To either side stretched wings, half the gatehouses’ height, covered at bottom in an even layer of yellow and at top in red tiling. The wings continued straight out for a time, then turned a corner, until they met in the middle from either side and formed a rectilinear court, framed by the surrounding buildings. As we passed through the former carriageway, I noted the presence of tables, flyers and students promoting this or that campus group or activity, a sight which I had forgotten in my time on French university campuses.
Once through to the green court, the liaison took a moment to explain how the cluster of buildings where we then found ourselves went on to become the Johannes Gutenberg Universität. An aggressive expansion plan began shortly after the transfer of deeds and continued to that day, as could be seen from one grasshopper-green construction in the distance and puzzling contemporary sculptures with nary a patina in sight. Yet we had to remain at the university’s martial center for the registration and would only later be cast out into the new.