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GRDadof3

The Battle of the Higher Ed Institutions

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I've noticed recently that it's become almost a giant game of monopoly downtown with the higher ed institutions.

 

With one swoop and a little over a million dollars, Ferris State University seems to be pulling up to the front of the pack with its purchase of UICA. So now they have pharmacy on the hill, MTEC at GRCC, Kendall and now UICA.

 

WMU and Cooley have solidified their partnership in GR. And rumor has it WMU is looking to expand in downtown GR.

 

GVSU obviously probably has the biggest footprint (other than GRCC). New business school, Eberhard, engineering center, Devos Center, medical mile, Johnson Center (bicycle factory) and the other warehouse across the street.

 

MSU Med School and Biotech campus, and MSU Extension program expansion into the Downtown Market.

 

GRCC has its current footprint that is seeing a ton of renovations, as well as the old Davenport campus.

 

Another higher ed institution that does not have much of a presence in GR yet is poking around downtown and the West side.

 

Davenport has a building.

 

Did I miss anyone?

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I was in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago and noticed the same things; quite a density of Higher Ed in the downtown core.

I don't get to Chicago frequently but it seemed there were much more than my previous visit.

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This will become Grand Rapids true salvation. Many of these higher-ed programs will evolve into more research based institutions that will begin to pump out spin-off companies. Even Kendall has huge opportunity to better leverage economic development through design. I can't think of another mid-size city that has clustered biotech, art and design (including industrial), business, technology and engineering in such a small geographic area downtown through so many different institutions. Even Ann Arbor is missing some of these elements on U-M's central campus.

 

A true college town emerging. Only a matter of time before Fortune 500 companies will be desiring smaller regional offices to leverage the ongoing higher-ed investments. Ongoing challenges of high cost and connectivity to other cities via the airport comes to mind as a barrier to fulfilling this vision.

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Another higher ed institution that does not have much of a presence in GR yet is poking around downtown and the West side.

 

Whoa, wait, who is this? You wouldn't mean that other school, would you? The one from the east side of the state?

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Just wait until the state legislature refuses to get bullied by the university system and allows comm colleges to offer 4 yr degrees in many fields, not just the bone they threw out in a few basically meaningless fields.   Perhaps Ferris sees the writing on the wall and understands they'll compete more directly against GRCC eventually.

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Whoa, wait, who is this? You wouldn't mean that other school, would you? The one from the east side of the state?

 

I haven't heard any specific names, just that description. Could be Wayne State, UofM, etc..

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I'd be shocked if U of M hasn't been looking at Grand Rapids for a while. They already have campuses in Flint and Dearborn. Grand Rapids seems like a great fit- it's far outside of what people would  consider commuting range (Flint and Saginaw, not so much), and they would compete well in this market. We just need to find the U of M equivalent of Peter Secchia. :)

 

Joe

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Originally, GRCC was a prep/feeder school for the University. Were UM to come to town it would be in some sort of graduate capacity similar to WMU, since GVSU has the undergrad franchise so to speak.

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GRCC is building a new laboratory pre-school ( pre-school environment for students studying childcare development). 

 

Looks like moon base alpha. Architect is Stantec, which has offices around the globe apparently. This will sit on Lyon East of the music center. 

 

17831691696_a77ac7f0f8_b.jpg

 

 

17831691666_ff18c4d132_b.jpg

 

 

 

17858529401_da938ce555_b.jpg

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They're going to use that chunk of land.. for.. that?  Two one storey elongated portables with house-like roofs and bubbles?

This is the most uninspiring I think I've ever seen proposed for downtown.  I think I actually like the parking lot better.

Edited by tSlater

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i kinda get it, if they are replicating an elementary school environment the building should look like an elementary school... 

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I'm not sure how I feel about the project. Here's yet another angle. I guess I don't understand the pitched roof aspect. Modern schools don't really look like that anymore, if that's the feeling they're trying to evoke. In addition, there are perfectly fine education related architects in West Michigan. ProgressivAE, Tower Pinkster, Integrated, etc.

 

It's a challenging site, but they could have made some really cool elevated buildings instead of these awkward retaining walls. or built the buildings into the hill and had green roofs on them that would double as playground areas. 

 

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/green-roof-school-disappears-into-hillside.html

 

This design seems to be fighting the sloped site instead of embracing it. I don't know if this is something that's technically taught in architectural school, but I don't think you run a pitched roof perpendicular to a heavily sloped site like this? You run parallel (Van Andel Institute for instance). Or you go with a flat roof. 

 

Maybe they were told "It's West Michigan, don't do a flat roof because of snow." Pfft.

 

17273789603_cc6e9c33e7_b.jpg

 

 

 

Since the walls and the roof seem to blend together, I wonder if it will be continuous sheet metal like this?

 

Husaro-House-by-Tham-Videgard-11-537x357

 

 

On second thought, I know how I feel about this project: I don't like it. :) 

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This building doesn't fit downtown at all.  This belongs off of M-37 in some rural township.  And I agree about how it seems to be "fighting" the slope - buildings should take advantage of the elevation! 

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Yikes. Where'd the images come from? Something pretty official? The site plan looks like something that might get published but the renderings look like a quick SketchUp. Maybe (read: hopefully) they're still spit-balling?

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The site plan looks a little preliminary too. Looks like someone just threw the base plans for the ATC building and Library onto the site and didn't even bother to turn off the structural column grids.

 

Anyway, 20 years ago, rumor was the college had an agreement with the neighboring Heritage Hills homes that nothing taller then one story from the Claremont side would be built there.  And the college had no interest, at the time, in building such a small building.

Edited by Gorath

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The ATC is four floors. It uses the hill to its max potential to make the building far larger than it appears. It has very few windows and feels very industrial, but it sure uses the space well.

I'm not a fan of this shotgun shed design. GRCC could do something far better.

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Yikes. Where'd the images come from? Something pretty official? The site plan looks like something that might get published but the renderings look like a quick SketchUp. Maybe (read: hopefully) they're still spit-balling?

 

The engineering department at the city has a "design team" which sits down with developers and helps with design aspects of projects. It's a multi-disciplinary team that covers everything from fire department requirements to manholes to window placement. I just stumbled upon it recently on the city's site. 

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I keep going back and forth on this.

 

While I do like the contemporary look of it, with the large windows and minimalist shape, it really seems so out of place at first glance. I do know that Claremont has almost every home (the backs) with a roof deck, so it is very likely that CC could not build anything taller than this because it would block their western view and render the quaint road into little more than a service alley, so Gorath is likely correct in that there was an agreement to stay short. The HH people are not a force to take lightly when it comes to developing nearby, and CC has always been on their **** list. I think the use for the site is great, though. It's a nice closed in location that is easy to monitor and not a super high traffic area.

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I would be anxious if I lived there too after reading this article. GVSU is not known as some awesome developer of urban-centeried facilities. Putting GVSU out in Allendale was the first indication of that, although not 100% a strike against them. 2nd has been their Downtown campus that is still just a hodge-podge of a handful of buildings separated, and surrounded by, gigantic parking lots that have no connection to the rest of the west side, and really haven't done much to spur development in the area over the past decade. Again, not 100% their fault. SWAN has a part to play in this.

While the university announced it planned to demolish the 100 existing homes it purchased in October 2013 to make way for the large health campus that would be built over a period of several years, it has not detailed specifics about the facilities or how it will handle parking or traffic at the site.

Reading the story, GVSU has "plans" to build in chunks over an unspecified number of years. This might (likely) mean that you will get one modest building now and a huge parking lot on the remainder of the site for the next 20 years. Since GVSU doesnt have to abide by local zoning, and really is under no obligation to even care what the people there think, there is really nothing stopping them. And if it means they aren't going to build it all at once, then something will have to be done with the existing land that will be undeveloped. Unless GVSU is going to leave it as a grass field, then it will be paved over for parking (which they would want for their existing building across the highway, and the cost to do so will prevent them from just ripping it up in 2 years to build on.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

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I would be anxious if I lived there too after reading this article. GVSU is not known as some awesome developer of urban-centeried facilities. Putting GVSU out in Allendale was the first indication of that, although not 100% a strike against them. 2nd has been their Downtown campus that is still just a hodge-podge of a handful of buildings separated, and surrounded by, gigantic parking lots that have no connection to the rest of the west side, and really haven't done much to spur development in the area over the past decade. Again, not 100% their fault. SWAN has a part to play in this.

Reading the story, GVSU has "plans" to build in chunks over an unspecified number of years. This might (likely) mean that you will get one modest building now and a huge parking lot on the remainder of the site for the next 20 years. Since GVSU doesnt have to abide by local zoning, and really is under no obligation to even care what the people there think, there is really nothing stopping them. And if it means they aren't going to build it all at once, then something will have to be done with the existing land that will be undeveloped. Unless GVSU is going to leave it as a grass field, then it will be paved over for parking (which they would want for their existing building across the highway, and the cost to do so will prevent them from just ripping it up in 2 years to build on.

They still think and talk in "dollars and cents" and "economic impact," not really in placemaking, continuity, or even connecting to the surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, on their Allendale campus, all of the apartment projects on the West side of campus aren't even connected to the main campus by a SIDEWALK. Unless they've made improvements this summer, you always see students walking on the (broken) shoulder along that two-lane road. They still think like a commuter college. 

In downtown, they still haven't created a decent connection between the new business school and the buildings North of Fulton. I drove by there the other day and wanted to stop and take a picture of students walking through that dark parking lot under the S-curve, and then playing Frogger with traffic on Fulton. 

Unless they start communicating better, people are just going to assume they're just going to create another West Side, which is (as you said) a big jumble of buildings and parking lots with little to no cohesiveness. 

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Davenport University just broke ground on their new college of business at their Caledonia campus. For those interested. It's an interesting floorplan. 

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The Davenport University campus is actually pretty impressive. They've grown a lot in a small amount of time out in Caledonia.

Joe

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GRCC is building a new laboratory pre-school ( pre-school environment for students studying childcare development). 

 

Looks like moon base alpha. Architect is Stantec, which has offices around the globe apparently. This will sit on Lyon East of the music center. 

 

17831691696_a77ac7f0f8_b.jpg

 

 

17831691666_ff18c4d132_b.jpg

 

 

 

17858529401_da938ce555_b.jpg

This one was hard to get a decent picture, but they have the foundations going for the two buildings.

a084f3cd818a428de1da533850cf4cfe.jpg

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