Archived

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

joeDowntown

Aquinas goes brick

21 posts in this topic

I thought this was mentioned before but I couldn't find the thread.

After Aquinas was rejected by the planning commission for trying to build a vinyl clad dorm building, Rockford Construction and Belden Brick stepped up to the plate. The building will now be brick.

Aquinas officials still seem a little miffed at the Planning Commission for stepping in and saying it would be out of character, but I think Aquinas will thank them in five years. I think Aquinas has arguably the most beautiful campus in Grand Rapids. It's good to see the continuity of brick continued.

http://www.mlive.com/grandrapids/stories/i....xml&coll=6

Anyone know where this building will be located and what it will look like?

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I am glad that was sorted out. I agree that over time; its a definite plus for the everyone that the building is going to be brick. Vinyl would have really looked out of place and awful on the campus. Good work to the planning commission to sticking to their guns on this one.

Any renderings of the building with the brick exterior?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I remember reading it will be along Fulton, but that may be incorrect. Anyone else know or have any renderings?

I agree the Aquinas does have a beautiful campus, I often walk through there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad the city planners said brick. Vinyl siding is a fine material. But it belongs in the 'burbs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's in the vicinity of the other dorms/apartments near the soccer fields. It would be in the upper right corner of this aerial (parking lot):

2132063886_b8954ba324.jpg

2131286749_7ede524cf3_o.jpg

The bottom elevation is the vinyl siding elevation (now brick):

2132063570_99745871a3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Aquinas has arguably the most beautiful campus in Grand Rapids. It's good to see the continuity of brick continued.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to love one of the historic houses along Robinson, unfortunitley it was torn down to make room for a more modern building. I wish they could have preserved it and found a different spot for the new building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am continuously impressed with Belden's commitment to Grand Rapids. At a recent meeting with business owners on West Leonard where they vented about their frustration about the Supermercado, I found out that Belden offered to sell them bricks AT COST to make the project look better. Needless to say, they never took Belden up on their offer. Belden also does a great job keeping their campus up--being a great asset to that part of Leonard/Seward. So, "Props" to Belden for stepping up yet again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I used to love one of the historic houses along Robinson, unfortunitley it was torn down to make room for a more modern building. I wish they could have preserved it and found a different spot for the new building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, AQ does have the most beautiful campus AND the most beautiful grads ! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's in the vicinity of the other dorms/apartments near the soccer fields. It would be in the upper right corner of this aerial (parking lot):

2132063886_b8954ba324.jpg

2131286749_7ede524cf3_o.jpg

The bottom elevation is the vinyl siding elevation (now brick):

2132063570_99745871a3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GRDad, the front elevation shows vinyl siding on the top story of the building. Will it still be like that on the front and replicated on the back or is the building going to be all Brick front and back?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a question. I risk getting slammed by asking it here, but I think it bears asking.

What right did the Planning Commission have to deny the college from using vinyl siding? Now I like brick as much as the next guy, but is there a code, a rule, or a special designation that gives the Commission the right to deny the request to build based on choice of material? As far as I know the Planning Commission's role is to approve or deny projects based upon city ordinances.

Here is another example: the Planning Commission recently denied WNJ Law Firm's signage request. From the Press article it seems that there is City ordinance that limits the square footage of signage on the side of buildings downtown...and 53rd's current sign exceeds the limit so WNJ had to ask for an exception. If the Planning Commission simply denied the request so as not to set a precedent, that would be understandable and acceptable.

However, According to the Grand Rapids Press, Commission member Shaula Johnston blasted the law firm for proposing signs with its logo as "unclassy." So why is it being denied, because of the ordinance or because of the style of the sign?

Johnston went on to say "I feel it's offensive that [Warner Norcross] think they're so special that they need something different." I would contend that due to the City ordinance allowing only a certain square footage of signage on downtown buildings, WNJ's variance request to the Planning Commission was by definition different, so why was the request so offensive? Again is it a style or preference as opposed to an ordinance issue.

Back to Aquinas College...I assume the College had to come to the Planning Commission because what they wanted to build needed a zoning variance or some sort of site plan approval based on code or ordinance. If that is the case they can only be turned down because of the site plan or density issue or something like that, and not material choice. Further, if they are now being approved simply because the owner found more money or found a way to use the material of choice based on the Commission's preference, is not then the decisions of the Planning Commission becoming a bit capricious?

I think the Planning Commission is beginning to walk a fine line right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What right did the Planning Commission have to deny the college from using vinyl siding? Now I like brick as much as the next guy, but is there a code, a rule, or a special designation that gives the Commission the right to deny the request to build based on choice of material? As far as I know the Planning Commission's role is to approve or deny projects based upon city ordinances.

Here is another example: the Planning Commission recently denied WNJ Law Firm's signage request. From the Press article it seems that there is City ordinance that limits the square footage of signage on the side of buildings downtown...and 53rd's current sign exceeds the limit so WNJ had to ask for an exception. If the Planning Commission simply denied the request so as not to set a precedent, that would be understandable and acceptable.

I think the Planning Commission is beginning to walk a fine line right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's all in the new zoning ordinance Dave. The ordinance has very specific language on what can and can't be used for exterior materials, signage, and a host of other items.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


OK - I read through all of the minutes of the November 8 meeting. The actual application was for Permit with Approval. At issue was the height of the building. If you read through the discussion at the meeting there was much talk about height, width, and site plan. The comment about the vinyl siding came from Ms. Johnston and her comment was that the vinyl siding was "offensive and that the building "did not look like an Aquinas building." The reps from the college pointed out that there were several other buildings in the area that had a combination of vinyl and brick and that the vinyl portion was only along the back facing the woods. The approval came with a stipulation that the exterior had to be all brick. After it was approved there was more discussion about the vinyl siding stipulation and the commission was advised that it was a gray area.

According to the new Zoning Regs Aquinas is a SD-IC (Special District - Institutional Campus). Table 5.7.05 E of the code states that All walls exposed to public view from the street or adjacent residential area shall be constructed of not less than 75 percent face brick, stone, or cast stone. High quality materials on other exposed exterior surfaces such as brick, stone, wood or stucco are encouraged.

As far as I can see the Planning Commission had no right to require all brick on the building. Words like "are encouraged" create a gray area that will always be problematic. Overall my point is that Commission members should limit their comments to what is allowed and required by the code and not personal opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You won't get slammed by me Dave, but I'm the last person to ask an opinion on exterior materials right now, when so many buildings around town are looking like cheaply made garbage (IMO).

I think the Planning Commission should have some say as to their "opinion" about using different materials in different areas. Otherwise, there wouldn't need to be a commission, just a form to fill out and file with the city (or why even use a form). I know it makes it harder to decipher how to design projects, but isn't that inherent in the development dance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you on both the signs and the brick. It does seem like one individuals taste can come into play when it comes to the planning commission. I've seen it many times with signs.

While I like the outcome of the all brick building, I do agree that the "gray area" could majorly infringe on peoples rights.

Joe

As far as I can see the Planning Commission had no right to require all brick on the building. Words like "are encouraged" create a gray area that will always be problematic. Overall my point is that Commission members should limit their comments to what is allowed and required by the code and not personal opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as I can see the Planning Commission had no right to require all brick on the building. Words like "are encouraged" create a gray area that will always be problematic. Overall my point is that Commission members should limit their comments to what is allowed and required by the code and not personal opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Later I asked the developer why he didn't challenge them on the legality of their demand. He said to me " I need to be able to continue to work in this community. If I challenge them on this, the municipality will give a hard time in the future on other projects, from the administrative office, to the engineering review, to the building official, to the fire inspector, etc.".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the most surprising part of this is that aquinas would even pursue vinyl siding.

look, i understand - financial times are tough. i'm sure donations are down (or maybe not - i have no idea), and a brick building is more expensive out of the box. but you don't put residential-quality doorknobs in the place, do you? jack's wholesale windows in the openings? hollow-core wood doors? of course not - it's a college, you build for the long term.

it's a choice - build a crappy building now and tear it apart in 15 years when the exterior skin is shot, or you wait until you can afford a building that won't take constant maintenance. whoever was running this for aquinas wasn't being a good steward of the campus.

</rant>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.