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joeDowntown

Ugliest Buildings in the Core

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Driving around downtown yesterday got me excited by the mix of old and new architecture. But there are some buildings that need a whole lot of love (or the wrecking ball). Here are my top five in no particular order (and neither the County or City Hall building made my list):

1. Grand Rapids Press Building. An ugly building that needs to make way for new development. Under utilized, ugly and fortress like:

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2. U.S. Postal Service Building. Ugly from all angles, on prime real estate and truly hideous. It looks like they are working on it right now. Just let it die!

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3. 5/3 Building. Before I found Urban Planet I wanted to start a tagging crew and paint UGLY all over this building. Can't they re-skin this building for the greater good of mankind? I think I saw a similar building in Baghdad get bombed during the shock and awe campaign a few years back.

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4. Ford Federal Building. I'm sure eliminating this building is not practical at this time but could you imagine how much better this building would look if they gave it a paint job? The Choice One buildings were pretty ugly until they painted the second building to match the first. A nice three-four color paint scheme with uplighting could do wonders for this building.

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5. Law offices of Larry B. Wood. For all you uptowners, this building takes the wind out of my sails every time I see it. It looks like an old Old Kent bank branch that they cinder blocked up. I think I coined a new phrase when I took this picture: Facadomized. As in, this building has been facadomized.

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Does anybody else have any buildings that truly drive them nuts?

Joe

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3. 5/3 Building. Before I found Urban Planet I wanted to start a tagging crew and paint UGLY all over this building. Can't they re-skin this building for the greater good of mankind? I think I saw a similar building in Baghdad get bombed during the shock and awe campaign a few years back.

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Joe

Baghdad. :rofl::rofl: I too have wondered if they could at least de-skin those concrete piano keys off of there and at least make it all glass.

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I am offended by the buildings with blank walls.

The post office is on a very valuable riverfront property, yet completely turns its back on the river.

Mr. President, its time we tear down that wall!

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The old Klingman's Building is one of the nicest old structures in town. But the south side is a big blank wall.

I think the parking deck to the south was designed to be taller, but that building face is brutal.

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In the same block is the metal panel on the south side of the Keeler Building and the metal panel wall north of the old YMCA (Fountain Street Church?).

Yesterday afternoon the sun was hitting that wall and blinding people.

That much metal panel in one urban area should be against the law.

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Grand Rapids City Hall....

The new Art Museum (after they finish building the stupid thing)

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If I were to write some cold war espionage spy thriller and needed inspiration for a secret police detention center, I would probably use the GR Press building as a model. That place looks morbid.

The Post Office just looks plain ugly.

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The sad thing is that almost all of these "buildings" replaces truly wonderful structures that today would be considered landmarks. And in the case of the Press building, many of the people there actually defend how it looks!

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The sad thing is that almost all of these "buildings" replaces truly wonderful structures that today would be considered landmarks. And in the case of the Press building, many of the people there actually defend how it looks!

Yes, even Margie at the front desk loves the Press Building

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Yes, even Margie at the front desk loves the Press Building

quasimodo-ff-hair.jpg

Margie needs a brow wax.

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The Post Office just looks plain ugly.

Maybe its called "plain ugly" in Denver, John.

Around here we call it butt ugly. :rofl:

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Maybe its called "plain ugly" in Denver, John.

Around here we call it butt ugly. :rofl:

Butt ugly is good by me! :)

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Curiously, nearly all of your picks were designed by the same architectural firm. The company once known as Daverman Associates, then Greiner Inc., now part of URS Corp. I know for certain that the Federal Building, 5/3 Bank, and the Klingman Building rehab were done by them (as well as the State of Michigan Building, Gas Company Building, Calder Building) and I believe they may also have designed the Post Office and Press buildings. Also of note, they did the May's Department Store remodel circa early 70's (does anyone remember the aggregate stone facade?) that was torn down for the parking lot at Monroe and Lyon.

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Time for the GR Quick Fix: turn them all into really expensive condos.

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Curiously, nearly all of your picks were designed by the same architectural firm. The company once known as Daverman Associates, then Greiner Inc., now part of URS Corp. I know for certain that the Federal Building, 5/3 Bank, and the Klingman Building rehab were done by them (as well as the State of Michigan Building, Gas Company Building, Calder Building) .

Quick question destijl: What building is considered the "Calder Building"? Is it the orange/red colored brick building across from Devos Place? I just wonder because I hear they may be getting ready to do some renovations.

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Quick question destijl: What building is considered the "Calder Building"? Is it the orange/red colored brick building across from Devos Place? I just wonder because I hear they may be getting ready to do some renovations.

Yes. Its the red brick building.

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Yes. Its the red brick building.

Thank you much. I wasn't quite sure.

Back to Quasimodo Buildings of Grand Rapids...

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Curiously, nearly all of your picks were designed by the same architectural firm. The company once known as Daverman Associates, then Greiner Inc., now part of URS Corp. I know for certain that the Federal Building, 5/3 Bank, and the Klingman Building rehab were done by them (as well as the State of Michigan Building, Gas Company Building, Calder Building) and I believe they may also have designed the Post Office and Press buildings. Also of note, they did the May's Department Store remodel circa early 70's (does anyone remember the aggregate stone facade?) that was torn down for the parking lot at Monroe and Lyon.

That is very interesting. I believe Bob Daverman works at Progressive right now, but I don't know what projects he'd had his hands on. I'm pretty sure Steve Fry, who is in charge of Concept Design Group, came out of Daverman Associates as well. IMO he's done some pretty awful buildings too, the Riverfront Plaza building and its addition is just one of them.

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Definetaly the Ford federal building. It's just a huge eye sore.

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That is very interesting. I believe Bob Daverman works at Progressive right now, but I don't know what projects he'd had his hands on. I'm pretty sure Steve Fry, who is in charge of Concept Design Group, came out of Daverman Associates as well. IMO he's done some pretty awful buildings too, the Riverfront Plaza building and its addition is just one of them.

Bob is part of the family but didn't work for Daverman. His father and uncle were the big whigs at Daverman.

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The 5/3 Building isn't all that bad... it does need some work.. probably just removing that prison bar look would do wonders for it.

The Press and the Law Offices... good god buldoze them please.

And that post office... don't even get me started on that. I've seen prettier in the toilet. It looks like they just built an ugly brick box, and then just slapped an ugly design right onto the front... the front doesn't even match the back or even suggest the two are supposed to be together... not to mention even the front alone is beyond ugly.

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Excellent post Joe. I agree with all of them. The absolute worst is either the press or the post office, they are pretty much equal in terms of sheer architectural brutality. I think that the State of Michigan building is uglier than the federal building. But they are both just miserable.

I don't know if it counts, but that stupid little parking garage across from Louis Bention is just terrible. And the Huntingon Bank Bldg is covered in grime and makes me wanna :sick: everytime I look at it.

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Not only is the post office ugly, but it's completely inadequate. Cars line up on Pearl just waiting to get in the parking lot.

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How ironic that the votes for the ugliest buildings are all centered on the buildings that were put up in the name of urban renewal. At the time, they thought that the design was the trend of the future. But now, the trends are going back to building designs that were originally tore down.

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the trends are going back to building designs that were originally tore down.

Can you explain how that might be true? I mean, weren't many of the buildings torn down just four-story storefronts with walk-up apartments or offices above?

Seems to me the current trend is to convert the old buildings for new use, but new buildings tend to be taller and modern. I'm thinking about the Marriot, Medical Hill, Tall House, Icon and River House.

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I mean, weren't many of the buildings torn down just four-story storefronts with walk-up apartments or offices above?

Exactly. Like everything that was torn down, good design now values density, multiple-uses, and open, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes. (Everything Vandenburg Plaza is not.)

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But we're talking about buildings, not Calder Plaza.

I don't think we're going back to anything. I think the new usage for old buildings are distinct from what was there before and all new construction is DRASTICALLY different from pre-urban renewal.

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