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GRDadof3

Urban Interventions

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Excerpted from the DDA Agenda for tomorrow (explains it better than I can):

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The first area of focus being the Lyon Square dead end and riverfront area between the AGP and DVP. To be honest, I was hoping they'd think about enhancing the amphitheater, not eliminating it. I do like the introduction of the wall sections halfway down Lyon Square. Creates more of a "pocket park" feeling and diminishes the "loading dock area" feeling (I'm sure there are more AE technical terms for it).

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Are there other areas they should concentrate on for this effort? I'm thinking if they can wrestle the Monroe Center lot away from Ellis (behind the old Four Friends), and repurpose it/green it, that'd be a great victory.

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Those wall sections seem a bit odd, and I would think it would turn more people away from going down the street than there already is.

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To be honest, I was hoping they'd think about enhancing the amphitheater, not eliminating it. I do like the introduction of the wall sections halfway down Lyon Square. Creates more of a "pocket park" feeling and diminishes the "loading dock area" feeling (I'm sure there are more AE technical terms for it).

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Great presentation by Jeff Speck on this today. And based on the impression that there are about 15 large business owners involved, I think the initiative has some legs (Seyferth & Associates has been spearheading it for 14 months now). They went through and identified 30 different areas of downtown GR that could be enhanced to improve the "walkability" of downtown, and then narrowed it down to the top 10. In addition to Lyon Square, others mentioned were the corner of Lyon and Ottawa (a large void between walkable areas) and North Division, that could be narrowed.

For the Lyon Square project, some of the design elements he pointed out that can't really be seen in the renderings:

) The columns on the River City Bldg match up perfectly with the columns on the Pantlind Hotel (purposely done by the architect at the time). He envisions running brick bands in the street lined up with the columns to enhance this visual and to break up the all the monolithic concrete sidewalks and street.

) Build arches on each side of the street to create the first "room" of the street, with "Grand River" engraved on the arches facing East and "Grand Rapids" facing West. The arches would also serve to hide the loading docks from Monroe Ave. He feels this will draw people down the street, not repel them, (as the street pretty much does now)

) String white lights between the River City Bldg and the Pantlind at about the 3rd story level, creating a festive atmosphere and bringing the scale down

) Loading docks on DVP: Add modern industrial styled canopies like these over the dock doors. Add Green Screen surrounding the loading dock doors, wrapping around to the Civic Theatre entrance (which he called Grand Rapids' most beautiful building facace). He also suggested adding "towers" on each side of the doors with light elements at the top to further enhance their look.

) Skywalk: I wish I had the image of this, but he suggested adding the light towers to these as well (but not continued down to the ground), and then add perforated metal panels on the exterior that would look interesting both inside and out.

) Unbrick the ground floor of the Exhibitors Bldg, to make it more visually appealing to pedestrians

) Amphitheater: turn it into more of a dancing fountain area (that people can play in), and infill the amphitheater steps with greenery and a cascading water feature.

) Exhibitors Grove: enhance the area just outside the AGP back entrance with new brick pavers and more trees.

I think that was the gist of it. I couldn't hang out to hear feedback from the DDA on it. But they weren't requesting funding at this meeting.

One design aspect I didn't like was the arch design. Instead of tying in to the brick and granite facades of the two neighboring buildings, he suggested highlighting stone and timber so prevalent in Grand Rapids and the Grand River's history. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not a big fan of stone and timber in urban settings.

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...

) Amphitheater: turn it into more of a dancing fountain area (that people can play in), and infill the amphitheater steps with greenery and a cascading water feature. ...

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His designs are pretty sophisticated, let's hope they get executed to that same sophistication, once he turns it over for implementation at the local level. The computer renderings do not do his concept sketches justice.

The arch design seems fairly urban to me, it has a lot more steel than wood and the timbers seem refined enough to fit into the urban condition. This can be pulled off if the details are convincing. A high level of detail will equal success. Cutting corners or making hokey design decisions will equal kitsch.

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Anyone snap any pictures of the drawings? I love the idea of stringing lights from the third floor. It definitely would make it festive.

Joe

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I like the stringing of lights at the 3rd floor level, the fountain, and the increased greenery. Still not crazy about the arches.

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So this mainly a design meeting?Was there a meat and potatoes discussion addressing why there is a people void in this space? The overall single use nature of the riverfront.... This is a good start, but lets hope this spawns a real want for a plan on the riverfront. I'm a little reserved about the busyness on the riverfront end. It seems cluttered.

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So this mainly a design meeting?Was there a meat and potatoes discussion addressing why there is a people void in this space? The overall single use nature of the riverfront.... This is a good start, but lets hope this spawns a real want for a plan on the riverfront. I'm a little reserved about the busyness on the riverfront end. It seems cluttered.

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Anyone snap any pictures of the drawings? I love the idea of stringing lights from the third floor. It definitely would make it festive.

Joe

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I'm not sure I like the fact that the first floor facade of the river city building is shown as having over-used modernist flair.. It's bad enough it's getting curly hair up top, but I hope they aren't re-doing the bottom, too.

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I'm not sure I like the fact that the first floor facade of the river city building is shown as having over-used modernist flair.. It's bad enough it's getting curly hair up top, but I hope they aren't re-doing the bottom, too.

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I've heard from a couple of people now that it sounds like this first project, Lyon Square, is going to move forward fairly soon. Maybe not all aspects of it, but much of it.

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they did this in holland a few years back, i like the idea of doing the concepts for free to show whats possible, ususally when the money train shows up, all the pretty parts disappear.

is that skechup?

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Excerpted from the DDA Agenda for tomorrow (explains it better than I can):

Are there other areas they should concentrate on for this effort? I'm thinking if they can wrestle the Monroe Center lot away from Ellis (behind the old Four Friends), and repurpose it/green it, that'd be a great victory.

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Is there a list of the other 10 places sited? I still think the deadest zone in GR is the stretch of fieldstone wall opposite DeVos Place. I would love to see that somehow connected to the rest of downtown, with a nice open stairway up to Calder Plaza (and of course, Calder plaza would be on my list as well).

Joe

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Is there a list of the other 10 places sited? I still think the deadest zone in GR is the stretch of fieldstone wall opposite DeVos Place. I would love to see that somehow connected to the rest of downtown, with a nice open stairway up to Calder Plaza (and of course, Calder plaza would be on my list as well).

Joe

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I love all of the things that GR is doing to make the downtown thrive. I am wondering if there is something that the designers could do also to make that more of a "green space." For instance, since that area has so much pavement, there is a lot of runoff. Is there room there to plant a small rain garden or something that could help filter some of that excess water and keep it from polluting the river?

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Almost a year later, and plans are moving forward to start the design process on rebuilding Lyon Square, including the old crumbling amphitheater on the river. Preliminary plans also show Benthams with an outdoor seating area, an idea I pitched here on UP a few years ago in a thread about livening up the riverfront.

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2010/01/dda_gives_10000_toward_effort.html

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