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golscorer4's thesis project

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Some of you (or maybe none) may know that I'm currently working on my Master of Architecture degree at the University of Michigan. I'm in the beginning stages of research and preparation for my thesis project, which will be executed between now and the end of April.

In our thesis work we're asked to look at the project in from four directions; site (where it is), program (what it is), circumstance (why it is), and method (how we do it).

Having grown up in Grand Rapids, worked here, and been a fairly active member of this UP community, I have developed a passion for the city. My intention is to use Grand Rapids, the downtown area in particular, as the locus of whatever my project addresses. I want to take on a project that is urban, that enhances the downtown area

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Other than Devose Place, there is really not much going on North of Perl street and west of Division. Most of the architecture in this area are of the International Style and Burutalisim. This creates a stoic and decollate atmosphere that is disconnected from the southern half of DT. Because of Devose Place and all the people it attracts, many here on Urban Planet myself included have been on hands and knees begging for a redevelopment of this part of DT to make it more vibrant and get some much needed street life to that area. Maybe your theses could go in this direction. I think redeveloping the Federal Build/ City Hall/ CountyPlaza/5/3 building block into somthing that is more people friendly, capitalizes on the people Devos Place draws, and reconnects the north half of DT to the south half would be a giant step in the right direction. Redeveloping Calder Plaza and the block it sits on would be a huge task. But I think its something that is sorely needed and would be a big asset in your portfolio.

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I briefly thought about proposing a redevelopment of Calder Plaza. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that what is around the plaza is what needs help, not the plaza itself. I'm one of the people in this town that actually appreciates the large expanse of open space. It's the neighborhood that makes it appear more bleak.

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It's difficult to have a strong business presence in a neighborhood if there's no traffic, vehicle or foot. That's why I also believe this part of downtown needs to be redeveloped.

Both Monroe and Ottawa Ave's are quite walkable, however, what's lacking is the connectivity of these two streets. If I'm an out of towner, or even a local for that matter, and walk outside of Devos Place, there is no readily apparent way to reach Ottawa Avenue short of walking to Lyon or Michigan Streets. If you look at the current state of downtown development, everything is happening in a North to South (or vise versa) manner. You don't see things being developed East to West, which is a better way of connecting streets.

Edited by plee30

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For now I'd like to solicit some ideas from you all regarding the site, program, and circumstance aspects to this project. I've already come up with a few of my own that include, but are not limited to...

- relocating Fifth Third Ballpark to a downtown location and focusing on what happens around it rather than just the ballpark

- a multi-functional project that mediates between DeVos Place and Calder Plaza areas, that is, brings them together

- something to break the divide, caused by 131 and 196, between downtown and the near-West and North sides.

Having been through the process myself, I can sympathize with what you will be going through. It isn't easy, Godspeed.

You have a very interesting idea with the ball park relocation. Not that I necessarily agree that downtown is the best place for 5/3 but the impact and development that something like that would incur would make for a very interesting thesis project. One of your case studies could be what happened after VanAndel was built.

Please keep posting as you move through the process.

Edited by Nitro

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I vote for option two. Would be great to give people a reason to head north on Monroe besides going to the Gov't buildings or Devos... esp with all that is happening in Monroe North and the street rail line...

[EDIT] Have to admit.. the ball park scenario sounds like a fun one... already had some discussions this morning with some co-workers about the possibilities there

Edited by jbr12

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The ball park idea sounds full of possibilites. Major Leage Soccer could be a good refernce for that idea as they've built and are in the process of building "Arena developments" all across the country.

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First-ever Urban Meijer downtown?

Move HQ for Amway or Meijer or Wolverine or Steelcase downtown

My favorite - design an aquarium along the river with built-in underwater views of the river. Anything involving the river gets my vote.

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After driving through my former neighborhood I had another idea for you....

There's a stretch of the river north of the Plant Moran building that is dotted with industrial buildings.... complete waste of the Grand River frontage....

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Step One for Saving Rowe/Olds: Rip out of current owners hands to stop the demolition by neglect.

**Ahem** (stepping off pedestal)

How about the area directly West 131. I think really nice buildings on that side creating a "canyon" for the highway would be nice. Maybe stepped buildings to create a more gentle "canyon". It could be a great visual ride. Or, as Rizzo suggests, bury the highway and creat the best urban area in GR over the old 131 location.

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how about relocating GVSU stadium to the fulton parking lot?? there should be enough parking around there where building more would be unneccassary. if it was a dome then sports could play init year-round and to help pay for it have the rampage and griffins play there.... then you can use the vaa for what it was made for, music.

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I like option 2 as well. I think there is a lot of potential in the space between the government buildings and DeVos Place.

Joe

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how about relocating GVSU stadium to the fulton parking lot?? there should be enough parking around there where building more would be unneccassary. if it was a dome then sports could play init year-round and to help pay for it have the rampage and griffins play there.... then you can use the vaa for what it was made for, music.

Sean, you would know this better than I, but doesn't the VAST majority of GVSU students live on or around the Allendale campus? Many of these first and second-year students don't have vehicles at GVSU, so I bet it would be a big hit to the attendance if the y had to find a way 20 miles to GR instead of walking to Lubber Stadium.

Nate, how about some sort of urban covered "mall"? Don't be afraid of the mall word, there are alot of ways to make somehting like this attractive to developers and shoppers as well. Picture a covered, semi-heated (in the winter) farmer's market - but with retail stops along the way that will inhabit the first floors of certain buildings. This would attract downtown shoppers to it being year-round, and provide an interesting tourist desintation as well. Think of the mezzanine deck of the BOB. Something that incorporates "awnings" or fabric shelter like that held up by steel beams and buildings, all covering a mecca of retail, produce, and street vendors. Marrakesh meets Manhattan.

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Sean, you would know this better than I, but doesn't the VAST majority of GVSU students live on or around the Allendale campus? Many of these first and second-year students don't have vehicles at GVSU, so I bet it would be a big hit to the attendance if the y had to find a way 20 miles to GR instead of walking to Lubber Stadium.

Nate, how about some sort of urban covered "mall"? Don't be afraid of the mall word, there are alot of ways to make somehting like this attractive to developers and shoppers as well. Picture a covered, semi-heated (in the winter) farmer's market - but with retail stops along the way that will inhabit the first floors of certain buildings. This would attract downtown shoppers to it being year-round, and provide an interesting tourist desintation as well. Think of the mezzanine deck of the BOB. Something that incorporates "awnings" or fabric shelter like that held up by steel beams and buildings, all covering a mecca of retail, produce, and street vendors. Marrakesh meets Manhattan.

Yeah, I like this idea. I think it would be awesome to flesh out something like this on Monroe just across from DeVos Place. It could be a way to connect Calder Plaza and possibly draw people up there. You have to wonder how many out of towners completely miss this sculpture and the DiSuvero just because they have no idea that it's there or a reason to go up there.

I believe that GRDad did a little Microsoft Paint sketch of something like this that incorporated a streetcar station as well. I can't seem to hunt it down though. Seems like it might have been in a topic about what undeveloped spaces are left downtown?

edit (found it):

2257795927_a9540128db_o.jpg

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.ph...st&p=933018

You could do something even better though, stretching all the way to Michigan, and perhaps having a feel kind of like the Nickels Arcade in Ann Arbor (except without those ugly flags :P :P ).

Edited by fotoman311

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I believe that GRDad did a little Microsoft Paint sketch of something like this that incorporated a streetcar station as well. I can't seem to hunt it down though. Seems like it might have been in a topic about what undeveloped spaces are left downtown?

Here's another one that I did Josh:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2324/225750...111a00912_o.jpg

I think doing something with Calder Plaza would make a great thesis. It touches on so many issues: righting some of the wrongs of the 1960's, public spaces, sense of place, urban redevelopment, and public/private partnerships (which would probably be required to pull something off).

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Nate, how about some sort of urban covered "mall"? Don't be afraid of the mall word, there are alot of ways to make somehting like this attractive to developers and shoppers as well. Picture a covered, semi-heated (in the winter) farmer's market - but with retail stops along the way that will inhabit the first floors of certain buildings. This would attract downtown shoppers to it being year-round, and provide an interesting tourist desintation as well. Think of the mezzanine deck of the BOB. Something that incorporates "awnings" or fabric shelter like that held up by steel beams and buildings, all covering a mecca of retail, produce, and street vendors. Marrakesh meets Manhattan.

I'm picturing this place in Milan with street vendors spread throughout the middle:

(Although certainly on a lesser scale)

milan_10.jpg

Source: http://www.nyhoff.net/wallpapers.php?page=milan

Edited by tSlater

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tSlate- YES YES YES! Just like that, (again to a lesser scale) - something that ties in the old, underutilized buildings of DT and gets people exploring the less-traveled alleys and walkways of the city - If someday a rail line could make a stop at "Grand Central Market" (we may have to ask permission from the small grocer on Monroe Center) this could be a huge boost to DT retail and tourism. THERE"S GOTTA BE A FISH MARKET, THOUGH!!!! GR'S VERSION OF PIKE PLACE!!!!

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When looking at a way to connect the streets, I was envisioning something on a smaller (budget conscience) scale, while not having to change much of the existing building infrastructure.

It took me 3 weeks, but I finally have a use for this photo. This is the walkway to Millennium Park, facing west toward E. Madison St. and across Michigan Ave, while visiting "The Bean" in Chicago.

Looking at these overhead photos, it's not difficult to imagine a similar layout between Monroe and Ottawa Avenues. Just replace "The Bean" with La Grande Vitesse. And since we promote the heck out of the fish ladder, why not have a little fun with this and have a cascading water wall and call it the "People Ladder?"

145of298-2.jpg

Image1.jpg

Image2.jpg

Edited by plee30

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I've always thought the same about Vandenberg Plaza and it's connection with Millennium Park. Le grande Vitesse, even with a wide stairway, would still not be visible from Monroe Avenue, though. Moving it would likely be out of the question, as well. What I think would be best is a new sculpture installed between the county building and the wall, and have the stairway lead up to that. The sculpture would need to be eye-catching and cause people to want to climb the stairs. I myself have been imagining something similar to the bean, but more elongated and clear like a bubble stretched across the sky by a child with a bubble set, and incorporate fountains into the sculpture somehow. Everybody loves a fountain they can interact with, and would certainly be drawn up the stairway with such. There's already nightly crowds who visit Ah-Na-Awen just for the fountain there.

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I've always thought the same about Vandenberg Plaza and it's connection with Millennium Park. Le grande Vitesse, even with a wide stairway, would still not be visible from Monroe Avenue, though. Moving it would likely be out of the question, as well. What I think would be best is a new sculpture installed between the county building and the wall, and have the stairway lead up to that. The sculpture would need to be eye-catching and cause people to want to climb the stairs. I myself have been imagining something similar to the bean, but more elongated and clear like a bubble stretched across the sky by a child with a bubble set, and incorporate fountains into the sculpture somehow. Everybody loves a fountain they can interact with, and would certainly be drawn up the stairway with such. There's already nightly crowds who visit Ah-Na-Awen just for the fountain there.

I couldn't agree more that something else should be added.

179of298.jpg

This was opposite of "The Bean," quite useful in its function and ability to attract people, and would no doubt look great in Vandenburg Plaza. I suppose when Festival comes around they'll have to find another place for the sound stage:)

I'm not 100% positive on how these worked, but when I was there, they appeared to be glass block structures, 50 or so feet tall, located on opposite ends of a fountain area. Behind the glass block were video screens with images showing anything from nature to people's faces. A great light hearted promotional tool would be the faces of city leaders. At some point, these images would change expressions and spray water out to anyone below.

182of298.jpg

Obviously all a pipedream, but a nice dream at that.

Edited by plee30

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thanks for all the comments and suggestions thus far

my apologies for not responding sooner, school (thesis research included) has been keeping me busier than I had hoped the last couple weeks

I have done some directed research and writing which I will post soon (sorry, no design work yet)

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:dontknow: Soooooooooo.... whats your topic?? :dontknow:

I was wondering this very same thing a few days ago when I rode south down Monroe past DeVos Place. :)

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