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About walker

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  1.   Its current and soon to end incarnation as an Irish Pub is no more authentic than this new “food inspired by British Commonwealth” theme.  If you want an authentic dive bar atmosphere then it ought to be converted back to being a blues and jazz bar as it was at one time.  Back in the age of de facto segregation, from the 1920’s to the mid-sixties, this was a Black bar and hotel.  Take a look at the note section of the link below: Waldron Building History That’s the cleaned up history.   Here’s more history than you probably want to know.  The business came into the possession of prominent African American attorney Alphonse Lewis in the sixties.  At that time it was known as Barnett’s Bar.  Here is the appeal brought by the city of a lawsuit that Lewis had won claiming the city had discriminated against him regarding the license transfer: Lewis v City of Grand Rapids I was around back then but I don’t remember how the appeal came out.  But I find it’s a pretty interesting look into what went on in GR in the sixties.  So what should it be, a fake Irish Pub or a fake British Pub? 
  2. Two things confuse me about this; 1) large data centers are generally found where there is a cheap source of power, while electric rates are OK around here, they are not super cheap; and 2) the owners have just recently resurfaced and replaced the lighting on the large parking lot.  The parking lot can hold a lot more cars than would be required for the handful of people working at a data center.   I guess I'd just like something more exciting like Tesla.
  3. Nikola Tesla, the genius that they named the electric car company after, is closely associated with pyramids in the minds of some people (mostly bizarre science nuts I think.)  See for yourself, Google Nikola Tesla and pyramids. Just a strange coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not.   
  4. New projects in Monroe North

    story and rendering of Icon II woodtv EDIT: well since I first posted this WOODTV has removed the rendering and replaced it with a video.  But you can still see it on the video for about a second so watch closely.  
  5. Pyramid

    Looks like the parking lot was resurfaced.  It needed it.  That's all I know.
  6. New projects in East Hills

    The history of the building is more interesting than what the link mentions in its discussion of the zoning aspects of the property.  Between approximately 1942 to sometime in the 1960's the building was the Grand Rapids Osteopathic Hospital which was the forerunner of Metropolitan Hospital or Metro Health as it's called now.  After that it was a funeral parlor for years before Thresholds moved in.  Before 1942 it was the home of the Catholic Bishop.  There might have been an odd tenant/owner or two in between the hospital and the funeral home and the funeral home and Thresholds but it has hardly ever been a single family home, at least not in recent history.    EDIT: Going back just now, I see that there are three embedded links at the end of the first link about the proposal.  If I had bothered to read the last one I would have seen that it gave the building's history (pretty much the same as I posted.)
  7. If anyone’s interested, the Free Press yesterday published the preface of John Gallagher’s new book where he explains how he came to write the book about Minoru Yamasaki and why he thinks Yamasaki is important.  Here’s a link to the article: Freep Story
  8. One of my favorite journalists is John Gallagher of the Free Press who covers the stuff we talk about here, architecture and urban planning.  This coming Thursday, October 8 at 7 PM at the Ryerson Library he is going to give a lecture on the life of architect Minoru Yamasaki in Detroit.  I suppose it isn’t a coincidence that Gallagher has just written a new book called Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity. Yamasaki is probably best known as the architect of the World Trade Center.  While that must have generated a great commission, in my opinion it isn’t really a good representation of his style or at least it isn’t one of the buildings of his that I like.  He was one of the architects that first began to turn away from the bland boxy modern architecture of the middle of last century by adding columns, arches, fountains, curved roofs, and other devices to his designs. While buildings he designed can be found around the world, he lived and worked in Detroit and there are several of his buildings in Detroit.  When I lived in Detroit thirty-five years ago, I lived in an old apartment building that was owned by and completely surrounded by Wayne State University.  When I stepped out the front door in the morning I could see to my right two of his buildings and two more were a few hundred feet away.   Here is a link that shows his Wayne State buildings, you can click on the individual buildings for more details:   wsu I particularly like the McGregor Building with its sculpture garden which has been recently restored.  One might compare it to a Japanese garden. I know a lot of us here don’t much care for mid-century architecture even when it is well done and that sometimes includes me.  Instead we get excited about apartments and condos carved out of old warehouses and furniture factories.  But I think at Wayne State his buildings really work well. Here’s a flyer on the lecture: flyer
  9. Oakgrove Cemetery Tour

    So here's Garret Ellison's annual Mlive story about the upcoming cemetery tour: cemetery story  
  10. Wolfang Puck Setting Up Shop in D-Town GR

    I haven't tried it yet.  I'm thinking about buying a can of his soup at Meijer and see if I like it first.  If I like it, maybe I'll go and at least order the soup.
  11. Oakgrove Cemetery Tour

    It's that time of year again for retired attorney Tom Dilley's annual cemetery tours.  May not sound like fun but the tours are really quite interesting.  This year's cemetery is Oakgrove which borders on 28th Street next to the Walgreen's at the corner of Kalamazoo.  It's kind of hidden and the entrance is a ways north on the west side of Kalamazoo.  He's planning on giving tours on both Saturday Sept. 12 and Sunday Sept. 13.  Here's a little more detail from the GR Historical Society: OAKGROVE TOUR INFO   
  12. New projects in Monroe North

    Plans may have changed since December, but an old Mlive article said they were thinking about a high-rise but weren't sure: "Jason Wheeler, a spokesman for Orion, said the property was purchased as an investment without a specific plan for future use. The law firm will stay in the building through April, he said. Wheeler said the site probably will be used to develop a high-rise residential building, given its small footprint." mlive link  
  13. New Embassy Suites Hotel - Monroe North

    I probably worded my post poorly.  I didn't mean to imply that Kaufman is the architect for the North Monroe project.  I highly doubt that he is.  GVSUChris's post about multiple brands in the same project just reminded me of what Kaufman has been doing in Manhattan.  I am curious about what their plans will look like.  
  14. New Embassy Suites Hotel - Monroe North

    The architect, Gene Kaufman, has been designing hotel buildings in Manhattan where up to three hotel brands share the same building with all hotels having separate elevators, lobbies, and facades.  From the perspective of the customer they are completely separate.   Here’s a link to a NYT article about Mr. Kaufman and his hotels: Kaufman's Hotels I’ve stayed in the Staybridge Hotel that’s mentioned in the article a couple of times including for a week about a month ago.  It worked fine for me.  Obviously Grand Rapids doesn’t have the same need to build vertically as does Manhattan, so building tall skinny hotels probably isn’t what they have in mind for North Monroe.   I think it’s an interesting idea anyway, at least for Manhattan.          
  15. Wealthy Street Needed Renovations

      Apparently the West Michigan Modern group is going to hold a meeting there on 7-16.  Here's a new photo of the building and little more background information about it from their Facebook page:   http://westmichiganmodern.com/2015/07/02/west-michigan-modern-pop-up-summer-gathering-july-16/