If the Owings Mills Metro Centre aims to be the "'unofficially official meeting place' for residents, office workers and visitors," as it claims on its website, it must be a place where people want to be and pass the time, not pass through. It isn't now. I hurry across the stone-paved plaza to return my library books. It is a barren courtyard save for the days when the food trucks arrive. My kids never linger. My daughter, 8, asked, 'Wouldn't it be great here if there was a fountain?" Perhaps she is a future urban designer. Kids' instincts about spaces show us at our most primal, and perhaps, researchers think, hearken back to our past: We like shade, we like pools of still water, we like respite.