Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

joeDowntown

Think Differently

24 posts in this topic

I think one of the ways Grand Rapids could differentiate themselves during our building boom is to build buildings that break the mold (without approaching Jetsonian architecture). I would love to see every building, big or small focus on the details. No blank walls, sloppy design, etc. What do you all think? He is one of my favorite "mold breakers" as of late:

145085566_9d1b840093_o.jpg

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


This city can barely get builders not to surround their buildings with surface parking lots. I just dont think we will ever see some of the real cutting-edge stuff anytime soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that it is a good idea if the designs are kept within reason. The example that you posted is a nice looking building, but too many other modern designs are just overly crazy and look like abstract art. One thing that I think would be more plausible is to encourage architects to use intricate details on their buildings. I think that is one of the biggest things missing from buildings these days. Many of them are plain because they lack moldings and such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes, i'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to architecture. But I know what you're saying Joe, non traditional architecture tends to stand out more than the norm. Afterall, where would St. Louis be without the arch?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Grand Rapids does need its own icon. (NOT Icon on Bond.. Good God..)

Sure we have the Amway (Is it still the Amway, or is it "The Alticor" now?) and other building that are labeled as icons, and I guess the serve well as icons, but we need something that will grab the attention of the whole country, and say "Hey, we're Grand Rapids".. something unique like St. Louis' arch, NY's Empire State, SF's TransAmerica Pyramid, Toronto's CN, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, yes, and.....yes. In order to differentiate ourselves from the rat pack of mid-sized cities, we need to go nuts with the architecture. I picture us being the "Berlin of the Midwest". A beautiful mix of old and new architecture:

berlin_architecture_4.jpg

berlin-building-4-small.jpg

berlin-museum-island-large.jpg

berlin-subway-station-large.jpg

berlin-chancellery-5-large.jpg

berlin-west-berlin-2-large.jpg

berlin-west-berlin-3-large.jpg

berlin-west-berlin-building-large.jpg

potsdamerplatz4.jpg

reichstag_dome_lge.jpg

One more

winterfeldt39c.jpg

Yes? No?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's plenty of architectural history in GR as a canvas to build new architecture on. I say let us mix old and new and tell a story about the connection between the two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Here's a topic for discussion.........

How many people are familiar with Columbus Indiana? Columbus is one of my favorite towns to visit (What's in Indiana, right??? Corn???) Corn and the Cummins Diesel Engine company.

The Cummins factory was led by a philanthropic gentleman by the name of J. Irwin Miller who (in an abbreviated nutshell) offered to pay the architectural fees on any building if the owner selected an architect from their list. A virtual who's who of the best and brightest architects in the nation (what we might call Starchitects today). The result is that Columbus has one of the most diverse collections of architecture in the country done by almost any architect of note in the last 60 years.

Could a program like that work here in Grand Rapids? I have my doubts but maybe it could be pulled off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure we have the Amway (Is it still the Amway, or is it "The Alticor" now?) and other building that are labeled as icons, and I guess the serve well as icons, but we need something that will grab the attention of the whole country, and say "Hey, we're Grand Rapids".. something unique like St. Louis' arch, NY's Empire State, SF's TransAmerica Pyramid, Toronto's CN, etc.
I'd like to a new Weather Ball downtown. The Weather Ball was one of Grand Rapids's most well-known landmarks, and could be seen from miles and miles around. Perhaps a new Weather Ball for the 21st century, something similar to Dallas' Reunion Tower?

zjazw3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you Nitro. If a small town in Indiana can get the greats of the world to contribute to their architectural heritage why couldn't we do it here? The Urban Planet can be our platform. As citizens of the Grand Rapids metro we can continually ask for, insist on, and promote great design in everything that's proposed and built. At first it will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears, but cities whose skylines and design stand out are not overnight happenings. Columbus is incredible, but it took a lover of architecture who had deep pockets... a sugar daddy to the community to do it. We have to reinforce to everyone in our area (elected officials and especially OUR sugar daddies) that this is important and adds to all of our quality of life. Simply, "Ya want boxes or inspiration".

It gets done when you do with EVERYONE what we all do here with each other. Spread the word, get others enthused, elect people who love design, bring your kids up to love architecture, promote, promote, promote, and make it a community wide priority. Yeah, I know it's rah-rah and simplistic, but if we Urban Planet people don't do it what Grand Rapids "Architectural Savior" will? You create THAT kind of excitement about architecture in our city and the great architects will want to be a part of it. And for you doubters, look at the collection of outdoor art and sculpture Grand Rapids has. That was done by only a few people. So why not buildings?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With that idea I think that organization we were discussing before could help....Grand Rapids Architectural Foundation. I think first architecture needs tenants, lets get some!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you Nitro. If a small town in Indiana can get the greats of the world to contribute to their architectural heritage why couldn't we do it here? The Urban Planet can be our platform. As citizens of the Grand Rapids metro we can continually ask for, insist on, and promote great design in everything that's proposed and built. At first it will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears, but cities whose skylines and design stand out are not overnight happenings. Columbus is incredible, but it took a lover of architecture who had deep pockets... a sugar daddy to the community to do it. We have to reinforce to everyone in our area (elected officials and especially OUR sugar daddies) that this is important and adds to all of our quality of life. Simply, "Ya want boxes or inspiration".

It gets done when you do with EVERYONE what we all do here with each other. Spread the word, get others enthused, elect people who love design, bring your kids up to love architecture, promote, promote, promote, and make it a community wide priority. Yeah, I know it's rah-rah and simplistic, but if we Urban Planet people don't do it what Grand Rapids "Architectural Savior" will? You create THAT kind of excitement about architecture in our city and the great architects will want to be a part of it. And for you doubters, look at the collection of outdoor art and sculpture Grand Rapids has. That was done by only a few people. So why not buildings?

It sounds like a great idea, if you can figure out a way to structure this organization. I've thought the same thing, but have no idea how to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is very interesting! I need to check up on this place. It is kind of what Chicago decided after the great fire. Build it grand or don't build it. In this I believe that a one story can be as grand as a twenty story building. I am a historic building nut so I think we should keep anything we have pre-70's and use this as the platform to do grand things!

Joe

Here's a topic for discussion.........

How many people are familiar with Columbus Indiana? Columbus is one of my favorite towns to visit (What's in Indiana, right??? Corn???) Corn and the Cummins Diesel Engine company.

The Cummins factory was led by a philanthropic gentleman by the name of J. Irwin Miller who (in an abbreviated nutshell) offered to pay the architectural fees on any building if the owner selected an architect from their list. A virtual who's who of the best and brightest architects in the nation (what we might call Starchitects today). The result is that Columbus has one of the most diverse collections of architecture in the country done by almost any architect of note in the last 60 years.

Could a program like that work here in Grand Rapids? I have my doubts but maybe it could be pulled off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is very interesting! I need to check up on this place.

Linky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


That is very interesting! I need to check up on this place. It is kind of what Chicago decided after the great fire. Build it grand or don't build it. In this I believe that a one story can be as grand as a twenty story building. I am a historic building nut so I think we should keep anything we have pre-70's and use this as the platform to do grand things!

Joe

Before WWII we had a commitment to proper design that somehow has disappeared. Grand design came natural in the 1870's when Chicago was rebuilt. It is a very rare thing today.

Regarding pre-70's buildings, I agree we should keep the one's that are productive and/or historically valuable as long as that value is greater than the value of a replacement building. Not all old buildings are worth keeping and sometimes even those that are can be replaced with something of greater value.

"Whores, politicians, and ugly buildings all become respectable if they just manage to hang around long enough...." --John Huston as Noah Cross to Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes (sp?), in CHINATOWN (1974)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We already have landmark architecture in Grand Rapids, it's called Vandenberg Plaza.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the architecture of Columbus, Indiana is awe-inspiring and the architects who created it were some pretty heavy hitters, a city made up of only object buildings which scream out "look at me" is not a good city. Columbus proves this. It is not a livable city. The spaces that these buildings create are not urbanism. It is nothing more than a novelty, a tourist attraction.

And these buildings were created by the best of the best (in most cases). Imagine having half-assed attempts at this kind of architecture, it would be disastrous.

While I am biased toward the traditional forms of architecture, I find nothing wrong with modern architecture as long as it is done well. Much of what we see today is just plain atrocious, whether it is a poor attempt at modernism or a misrepresented stab at traditional. Architects today (in general) have just plain missed the boat at both ends of the spectrum.

We need to make strides at building our cities with a large amount of well done background / fabric buildings, which at this point in time nobody seems to be able to do competently. In addition to these background buildings, we need to have a much smaller amount of object buildings, which again nobody seems to be able to accomplish on a regular basis.

As an example:

Has anyone looked at the building that is replacing the old Henry School that the GRPS is building? It's at the corner James and Logan. It is interesting to compare the two buildings (but hurry because they will be destroying the old building to make way for parking shortly).

The new "academy" represents what is wrong today. It is an absolutely horrid piece of architecture which presents a blank wall on the James Street (west) side. What does this say to people walking past this, or living across the street from it!? It has all the ammenities of a detention facility, designed by architects who have done so many suburban bunker schools that they no longer know how to do urban school typologies. This building was a chance to do a good object building and it failed. It failed miserably.

When you look at it, try to figure out where the hell the front door is. Where is the building's back? Conversley, look at the old building. We know where the front is, we can even determine what kind of building it is, because the architecture clearly states the type of building it is right there in its form!! One building was built by a society that understood what it was, the other was built by a society that has lost its way.

What does this building say about us as a society? What does it say about the people being educated within its walls or the people who live adjacent to it? Does the building make any attempt to be a good neighbor? Or is the only thing that it is missing a razor wire fence, trying to keep people out...or in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While the architecture of Columbus, Indiana is awe-inspiring and the architects who created it were some pretty heavy hitters, a city made up of only object buildings which scream out "look at me" is not a good city. Columbus proves this. It is not a livable city. The spaces that these buildings create are not urbanism. It is nothing more than a novelty, a tourist attraction.

And these buildings were created by the best of the best (in most cases). Imagine having half-assed attempts at this kind of architecture, it would be disastrous.

While I am biased toward the traditional forms of architecture, I find nothing wrong with modern architecture as long as it is done well. Much of what we see today is just plain atrocious, whether it is a poor attempt at modernism or a misrepresented stab at traditional. Architects today (in general) have just plain missed the boat at both ends of the spectrum.

We need to make strides at building our cities with a large amount of well done background / fabric buildings, which at this point in time nobody seems to be able to do competently. In addition to these background buildings, we need to have a much smaller amount of object buildings, which again nobody seems to be able to accomplish on a regular basis.

As an example:

Has anyone looked at the building that is replacing the old Henry School that the GRPS is building? It's at the corner James and Logan. It is interesting to compare the two buildings (but hurry because they will be destroying the old building to make way for parking shortly).

The new "academy" represents what is wrong today. It is an absolutely horrid piece of architecture which presents a blank wall on the James Street (west) side. What does this say to people walking past this, or living across the street from it!? It has all the ammenities of a detention facility, designed by architects who have done so many suburban bunker schools that they no longer know how to do urban school typologies. This building was a chance to do a good object building and it failed. It failed miserably.

When you look at it, try to figure out where the hell the front door is. Where is the building's back? Conversley, look at the old building. We know where the front is, we can even determine what kind of building it is, because the architecture clearly states the type of building it is right there in its form!! One building was built by a society that understood what it was, the other was built by a society that has lost its way.

What does this building say about us as a society? What does it say about the people being educated within its walls or the people who live adjacent to it? Does the building make any attempt to be a good neighbor? Or is the only thing that it is missing a razor wire fence, trying to keep people out...or in?

Well said! If you listen closely you might hear me applauding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading some of the comments have me worried about one major thing... we need to do a combination of preserve our existing structures (well, the historic ones anyway) and then infill with new architecture. When urban renewal came around in the late 60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think there is the opportunity to push the green and affordable building envelope. Part of what could make a building unique and noticed is its ability to stay affordable and improve quality of life for its tenents, and this may allow some "bending of the rules" to get a truly world-class design. This would also attract the needed clientelle to support the innovativation and live in "that wacky building". I recently came across this example of a PUNK PALACE!

s2_f9b1d8c9eb5.jpg

-I apologize in advance if this exceeds the quote size limits of the site-

"Through the slogan "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Brendeland & Kristoffersen reveals its realist approach to Strandveien 37, and the similar political and disciplinary discourses the project addresses. The slogan refers literally to a strategy of keeping what already works and not raising costs with unnecessary upgrades and superficial renovation. This philosophy challenges the status quo of Norwegian governmental housing policy: The norms for cookie-cutter residential developments, with standardized fences, sidewalks, and even recycling stations, do not necessarily create better environments for all groups and social contexts."

-break-

"Rather, the extra expenses and resulting uniformity of such requirements might be the start of a gentrification process that pushes away the original inhabitants. By capitalizing on the informal neighborhood's existing infrastructure and keeping housing as cheap as possible, other types of benefits are gained. Among these, the architects stress an almost banal but nonetheless important example: The creation of more free time. That is, ho urs to use on more creative pursuits than earning a living." -Architecure Magazine

http://www.architecturemag.com/architectur...t_id=1002315326

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The new "academy" represents what is wrong today. It is an absolutely horrid piece of architecture which presents a blank wall on the James Street (west) side. What does this say to people walking past this, or living across the street from it!? It has all the ammenities of a detention facility, designed by architects who have done so many suburban bunker schools that they no longer know how to do urban school typologies. This building was a chance to do a good object building and it failed. It failed miserably.

When you look at it, try to figure out where the hell the front door is. Where is the building's back?

Well said. applaud.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When urban renewal came around in the late 60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The decade of the 60's really showcases, the the leadership of Grand Rapids, lack of foresite and vision. Vandenburg Center, while there is a big arguement going on about the buildings. Sure they are a piece of our history, but are they unique. Definately they are boring inside, and out. Also, the one place in the city where we might possibly be able to have a beautiful, albeit tall structure has been filled in by these things. Look at Grand Rapids freeway system, built at the beginning of the 60's, where they built it, and how. They are difficult to replace, and bursting at the seems. What's embarrasing about that, is that compared to other cities, Grand Rapids car volumes are low. When the 60's came around, noone looked to the future, they stayed in the here and now. Because of that, we got the HPC, and while I don't always agree with them, I'm thankful they are around to prevent the 60's from happening again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.