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GRDadof3

Calder PLAZA to get makeover

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Public input sessions are underway. I guess it's time to throw out some ideas here, even if they've been talked about ad nauseum! :P

https://mibiz.com/news/design-build/item/23814-make-calder-plaza-great-again-redesign-project-could-create-opportunity-for-downtown-vibrancy,-boost-real-estate-values

If you want to take an online survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CalderPlaza

 

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WOODtv should take a page out of the Today Show playbook and build a tv studio there with big windows so crowds can gather.  They can have concerts on Fridays, special segments on the plaza, etc.  

studio-change-280x195.jpg

Today5.jpg

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47 minutes ago, wingbert said:

WOODtv should take a page out of the Today Show playbook and build a tv studio there with big windows so crowds can gather.  They can have concerts on Fridays, special segments on the plaza, etc.  

studio-change-280x195.jpg

Today5.jpg

maxresdefault.jpg

 

That is a great idea IMO, and could/would highlight the sculpture.

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Here is what I posted on another thread:

1) It IS just the roof of a parking garage. It has virtually no history before the 60s. People's emotional connection to it is weak at best. Calling it a "gathering place" is obnoxious as no one goes there unless they HAVE to for an event. The area in front of the art museum is a gathering place, this is at best an events space. You want people to come there as a normal part of their everyday, then there will need to be a major retail push to the point where the surrounding area becomes more "mall" than government center.

A true plaza must sit at the meeting place of major roads, not off to the side in some soul-sucking 60s clusterchuck like Calder is.

2) it is surrounded by the worse structures to ever dream of putting around a plaza. For any redesign to be anything more than putting lipstick on a pig, you will have to replace the Ford Federal Building, all of the buildings across the street*,. The 5/3rd and the "Calder Plaza Building will have to be completely opened up on their ground floors, and that parking lot will have to be filled in.

*After seeing 300 Ottawa, I would have to exempt them. They actually did a good job, but the other buildings will seriously need to be renovated.

3) That useless grass facing Monroe (below the plaza), along the blank wall, will need to be filled in as well with retail or some other attraction.

3.5) the NW corner needs to have a pedestrian stairway or transparent elevator so that it can bring activity, and pedestrian travel down to the SE corner of Michigan and Monroe to complement the projects taking place north of Michigan Ave.

4) Furniture will need to exist on the plaza. Sorry to Calder's relatives but the flat slab of concrete isnt working anymore. It may also have to share the space with a 2nd sculpture.

5) Any views of the highway on/off ramps will need to be shielded from sight from the plaza. Ottawa will need some traffic-calming because it is seen as just an extension of the freeway off-ramp too often. 60s era traffic engineering is simply not ok anymore.

6) Parking under it must be free after 5pm.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

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I've always said I think they need to build some sort of liner buildings along Monroe (the wall) with walkways bringing Monroe and the plaza together. It seems like a strip of 1-3 story buildings (of varying sizes and architectural styles) bridging the large gap between Michigan and the office would do a lot to make that part of Monroe pedestrian friendly. If they did it right, the top levels could be accessible from the plaza (albeit on the west side of the city/county buildings) and provide food options. 

As far as the plaza itself, I fell in love with the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. 

http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/visit/maps-and-information/sculpture-garden.html

So many people were hanging out, eating lunch, looking at art and relaxing. Why not attempt grass and nature instead of a concrete staging area for a few festivals? It doesn't mean they couldn't still put tents up for festivals, or move stages/portable flooring in for events. Grand Rapids needs more green space as people move downtown. Maybe make it into Grand Rapids "front lawn". Heck, this park even has a Calder (though we definitely take better care of ours) and a Di Suvero. Maybe hook up with Meijer Gardens and rotate significant sculpture in and out. They also built a beatiful restaurant "on the green" with restrooms, etc. 

o.jpg

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Of course, sans fountain. :)

Joe

 

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For Urban plazas, I love Fort Worth's Water Gardens and I'd love to see something like that in GR. Kinda like the fountains in front of the GR Ford museum, but on steroids. They work well as an "urban oasis" that still functions as an attraction/park and gathering space, and I could see something like that making a nice barrier from the freeway. Plant some white pines instead of cypress trees. How something like that would work in our climate, in a smaller space, above a parking garage, leaving space for the Grand Vitesse, it's not for me to figure out...

 

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3 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

3) That useless grass facing Monroe (below the plaza), along the blank wall, will need to be filled in as well with retail or some other attraction.

3.5) the NW corner needs to have a pedestrian stairway or transparent elevator so that it can bring activity, and pedestrian travel down to the SE corner of Michigan and Monroe to complement the projects taking place north of Michigan Ave.

before-gr-urban-2.jpg

 

I remember the first time i saw this picture of what Michigan St. used to look like, I was shocked, especially standing in this same location now...  But how nice it would be if they lined the area on Michigan and Monroe along the blank Calder Plaza walls with buildings like this again?  Make the buildings two/three stories, with the first story at street level and the second story at the plaza elevation and fill with retail/restaurants (maybe an office here or there), you would have no problem trying to draw people to this area.

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I will be in Boston the first week of August, and plan to check this park out (near Seaport District).   Sorry the video is a  testimony for a marketing company, but it does show the types of activities/events being held.  Movies, games, workout classes, concerts, etc.   

https://signatureboston.com/lawn-on-d

 

 

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The grassy area along Monroe is only 30 or so feet deep. Is it deep enough to have storefronts?

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2 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

The grassy area along Monroe is only 30 or so feet deep. Is it deep enough to have storefronts?

Likely nothing on the same scale as a mall store. It can be something like a "GR Store" or a place that sold Michigan souvenir products to tourists or convention goers.

You will have to get creative with the space usage, though.

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3 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

The grassy area along Monroe is only 30 or so feet deep. Is it deep enough to have storefronts?

Seems like you could have wider spaces instead of deep. I've also always wondered if you could potentially push into the parking ramp a bit. Maybe stairwells, bathrooms etc. could be pushed back into the structure? You wouldn't need a ton of space. 15 feet? 

Joe

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5 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

Likely nothing on the same scale as a mall store. It can be something like a "GR Store" or a place that sold Michigan souvenir products to tourists or convention goers.

You will have to get creative with the space usage, though.

I think this is where x99's thoughts on the Meijer facade would work well. Except each facade could be its own space. I like what milesonwheels said as well, the second story could be accessible from the plaza. 

I feel like Reagan telling Gorbechev to "tear down that wall", I've been talked by about it for so many years. Hope it happens eventually. 

Joe

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9 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

I think this is where x99's thoughts on the Meijer facade would work well. Except each facade could be its own space. I like what milesonwheels said as well, the second story could be accessible from the plaza. 

I feel like Reagan telling Gorbechev to "tear down that wall", I've been talked by about it for so many years. Hope it happens eventually. 

Joe

I think a nice sloping ramp going up to the upper deck from Monroe would be nice, and then put small shops under it? I feel like I've seen something like that, maybe Millennium Park in Chicago? Or the Chicago Riverfront? 

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Just rip all that concrete out.  Make it a real park with dirt, trees, grass, gardens, fountains...a green space that could accommodate large gatherings.

You still put that Calder thing in there somewhere.

Make is classic though, like a true central park.  No gimmicky stuff.

 

Edited by john_denver

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5 minutes ago, MJLO said:

Am I the only person who thinks the Calder is boring and kind of ugly and overplayed in the city's branding?

I for one like it a lot, and appreciate its context with city hall and the county building, and it's history with the city.  I do wholeheartedly agree that something needs to be done to the "plaza" AND it's connectivity to Monroe, Michigan St., and the hill/Crescent park.  I'm also really hoping that CWD will have plans for the awful parking lot/ramp next to 5/3rd and the Calder Plaza building.  It's a huge waste of space. I hope CWD is involved in this process.

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1 hour ago, mpchicago said:

I for one like it a lot, and appreciate its context with city hall and the county building, and it's history with the city.  I do wholeheartedly agree that something needs to be done to the "plaza" AND it's connectivity to Monroe, Michigan St., and the hill/Crescent park.  I'm also really hoping that CWD will have plans for the awful parking lot/ramp next to 5/3rd and the Calder Plaza building.  It's a huge waste of space. I hope CWD is involved in this process.

I think the concrete can be reduced significantly while still maintaining the placement of it. I hope they enlist the help of an architect/designer/landscape architect and not just put this together in a committee. The park between the Pritzker Pavilion and the art museum expansion at Millennium Park is pretty awesome. I particularly like the Lurie Garden with its little creek and mix of stone and wood decking.

Lurie%20Garden%20salvia%20river.jpg?itok

And the Parkside Grill/Cafe

plaza.jpg

 

From the air you can just see how green it is.

FF6798457C17D7BACEF7CFCA46684686.jpg

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4 hours ago, john_denver said:

Just rip all that concrete out.  Make it a real park with dirt, trees, grass, gardens, fountains...a green space that could accommodate large gatherings.

You still put that Calder thing in there somewhere.

Make is classic though, like a true central park.  No gimmicky stuff.

 

All that concrete is the roof of the top level of the City-County parking ramp. I like the idea of greening up a good portion of it but that most likely require a renovation or reconstruction of the concrete roof / supports since I'm pretty sure it wasn't design for the loads a greenscape requires. Certainly a doable project:)

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2 hours ago, MJLO said:

Am I the only person who thinks the Calder is boring and kind of ugly and overplayed in the city's branding?

No.  It's hideous.  I don't even know how I would explain it to a visitor.  

"What is that orange metal thing?"

"Well, it's a sculpture.  And that isn't 'orange'.  That is 'Calder Red.'"

"Yeah, but what is it? It just looks like a bunch of orange metal and you have pictures of it everywhere."

"I have no idea what it is.  The guy who made it was a semi-famous.  We are very proud of it."

"Was he from here or something?"

"No.  We just really like it.  It is a symbol of how this area was reborn due to Urban Renewal." 

"Reborn?  It's sitting in the middle of a concrete parking lot that does not even have any cars in it."

"That's called a "plaza" which is a great reminder of how we ripped down all the buildings and shops that used to be there.  It was a very proud moment for our city.  And at least once a year we have food tents and dancing troupes up on that plaza, for your information."  

"You people are very odd."

"And you clearly do not understand art or plazas."  

 

Edited by x99
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51 minutes ago, x99 said:

No.  It's hideous.  I don't even know how I would explain it to a visitor.  

"What is that orange metal thing?"

"Well, it's a sculpture.  And that isn't 'orange'.  That is 'Calder Red.'"

"Yeah, but what is it? It just looks like a bunch of orange metal and you have pictures of it everywhere."

"I have no idea what it is.  The guy who made it was a semi-famous.  We are very proud of it."

"Was he from here or something?"

"No.  We just really like it.  It is a symbol of how this area was reborn due to Urban Renewal." 

"Reborn?  It's sitting in the middle of a concrete parking lot that does not even have any cars in it."

"That's called a "plaza" which is a great reminder of how we ripped down all the buildings and shops that used to be there.  It was a very proud moment for our city.  And at least once a year we have food tents and dancing troupes up on that plaza, for your information."  

"You people are very odd."

"And you clearly do not understand art or plazas."  

 

 

If you know people who look at a modern art sculpture and say "what is it?", you should probably find new friends. :) Unless it's your 75 year old Great Uncle from Dorr or something. He has an excuse. 

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Whether you like it or not, the Calder is a pretty significant piece of art by a significant artist. I've seen a lot of Calder's work in my travels and I'm always impressed at how well the piece in Grand Rapids is maintained. 

Your rant leads me to believe you probably think that the Meijer Gardens is a pretty park littered with mangled metal and stone. Of course, you're x99- You probably think the flowers suck too. ;)

Joe

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15 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I think the concrete can be reduced significantly while still maintaining the placement of it. I hope they enlist the help of an architect/designer/landscape architect and not just put this together in a committee. The park between the Pritzker Pavilion and the art museum expansion at Millennium Park is pretty awesome. I particularly like the Lurie Garden with its little creek and mix of stone and wood decking.

 

There is a parking garage under much of Millennium Park, but it was built to hold all that stuff. Like Raildude's said, I would think that if they went that far the whole plaza would need to be replaced including the structure holding it up.

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26 minutes ago, mpchicago said:

There is a parking garage under much of Millennium Park, but it was built to hold all that stuff. Like Raildude's said, I would think that if they went that far the whole plaza would need to be replaced including the structure holding it up.

I think if they got creative they could come up with some kind of greenery/plant life that was lighter than topsoil and sod. Planters to hold trees might be a challenge. Are Green roofs reinforced any moreso than a standard roof? 

Or couldn't they just add reinforcement beams to the ceiling of the parking garage? Instead of replacing the whole thing? 

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54 minutes ago, GRDadof3 said:

I think if they got creative they could come up with some kind of greenery/plant life that was lighter than topsoil and sod. Planters to hold trees might be a challenge. Are Green roofs reinforced any moreso than a standard roof? 

Or couldn't they just add reinforcement beams to the ceiling of the parking garage? Instead of replacing the whole thing? 

The support columns / footings need to be strong enough as well. That's what structural engineers sitting in front of computer screens in little cubicles get paid to do.:tw_glasses:

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