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Studio Park - $140 Million Celebration Cinema/mixed use project


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Yep, or the Yonge and Dundas AMC in Toronto, or any of the theaters in Times Square in NYC. Question is, how can we exercise our collective muscle to help make something like that happen, rather than the "glass-and-metallish-crap-encased-suburbanesque-vomit-inducing stink bomb"?

I'm not in love with the Toronto theater, but it isn't the horror that this thing is, at least. Grand Rapids has long had this weird fetish for trying to wedge suburban buildings into an urban setting, and it just doesn't work. I suspect that's because we really don't have any local urban architecture talent left. I suppose this is what happens when you bulldoze your downtown and don't have to build any meaningful infill buildings for three decades. Designing a building that will primarily be seen from a close distance is a totally different ballgame from designing one to attract interest from someone in a car on the Beltline. Case in point: The RDV building. The corbel elements are actually quite striking (and nice), in my opinion, but they totally botched the windows, which have no depth. The whole building, as a result, looks like a discordant, flat mess. Maybe it was a cost thing--who knows. If Celebration goes downtown though, they will be making a statement, and need to get it right.

Although I suspect almost the entire architectural world would beg to differ with me, I think the new Chicago public library is one of the most spectacular examples of modern traditional urban architecture. While architects routinely pooh-pooh it, your average man on the street cannot help but notice that it's pretty darn incredible--"What is that!" The question Loeks has to confront is really how to set this theater apart from its other ones. Chicago made a statement with their library, and Loeks needs to make an architectural statement with this theater (since opening it would be, in and of itself, quite a statement). There hasn't been an urban theater built around here for half a century, so this is really an opportunity. From that preliminary rendering, it is an opportunity being lost. Let's hope they go back to the drawing board and get it right.

Edited by x99
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$6.00 on Tuesday nights. just fyi.  I took a long stroll around DT today. I'll try and post all the pics when I get a chance. Teaser.      

Theater plan: Overall site plan: And a few renderings from the cover sheet of the drawings (sorry I never get color renderings):  

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Grand Rapids has long had this weird fetish for trying to wedge suburban buildings into an urban setting, and it just doesn't work...Designing a building that will primarily be seen from a close distance is a totally different ballgame from designing one to attract interest from someone in a car on the Beltline...If Celebration goes downtown though, they will be making a statement, and need to get it right...Loeks needs to make an architectural statement with this theater (since opening it would be, in and of itself, quite a statement). There hasn't been an urban theater built around here for half a century, so this is really an opportunity. From that preliminary rendering, it is an opportunity being lost. Let's hope they go back to the drawing board and get it right.

For starters, I think they should ditch the "Celebration!" name and signage. Give the theater a classy name and move away from the look of existing Celebration! locations. The current name and signage is really tacky, IMO.

Celebration-Cinema-e1296495723374.png

I'm in the skeptic camp right now. I think this is a great opportunity, but like others I hope to see more density, little to no on-site parking, and an attractive urban structure.

It's worth noting that the Ionia / Oakes lot has a very interesting relationship to US131. The space between the Ionia district and the transit district is barren in large part because of the freeway barrier. Building on the site will either reinforce the barrier or act as a bridge between the two districts. A mixed-use, dense development will activate all sides of the lot, facilitate activities all day (not just peak movie times), and be a real catalyst for the smaller, surrounding lots. A standard Celebration! design will have one "grand" entrance (along Ionia) and 3 1/2 blank walls around the rest of the site.

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<p>

Although I suspect almost the entire architectural world would beg to differ with me, I think the new Chicago public library is one of the most spectacular examples of modern traditional urban architecture.  While architects routinely pooh-pooh it, your average man on the street cannot help but notice that it's pretty darn incredible--"What is that!"

I agree completely. My AR101 class specifically referenced this building and the professor (not even an architect) tried to convince us that it was bad architecture. It may not be perfect, but it sure is within the realm of what I'd like to see more of.As for this theater specifically, wasn't it said the current rendering is preliminary and the next rendering will be very different? Hope is not lost yet.
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For starters, I think they should ditch the "Celebration!" name and signage. Give the theater a classy name and move away from the look of existing Celebration! locations. The current name and signage is really tacky, IMO.

Celebration-Cinema-e1296495723374.png

I'm in the skeptic camp right now. I think this is a great opportunity, but like others I hope to see more density, little to no on-site parking, and an attractive urban structure.

It's worth noting that the Ionia / Oakes lot has a very interesting relationship to US131. The space between the Ionia district and the transit district is barren in large part because of the freeway barrier. Building on the site will either reinforce the barrier or act as a bridge between the two districts. A mixed-use, dense development will activate all sides of the lot, facilitate activities all day (not just peak movie times), and be a real catalyst for the smaller, surrounding lots. A standard Celebration! design will have one "grand" entrance (along Ionia) and 3 1/2 blank walls around the rest of the site.

I have to say I don't hold out hope that the building will have energy on all sides. I expect it will be activated on the Ionia and Oakes side, but will generally be pretty forlorn facing 131 (think parking lot, mechanicals, service drives, dumpsters). It might get dressed up with fancy plantings that surround the perimeter, but not much else. Just a hunch. I hate being a pessimist.

I like the idea of a unique name. Maybe the Midtown Theater, named after the first theater that Loeks owned downtown? Or is that too confusing, since it's not really "midtown?"

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I have to say I don't hold out hope that the building will have energy on all sides. I expect it will be activated on the Ionia and Oakes side, but will generally be pretty forlorn facing 131 (think parking lot, mechanicals, service drives, dumpsters). It might get dressed up with fancy plantings that surround the perimeter, but not much else. Just a hunch. I hate being a pessimist.

I like the idea of a unique name. Maybe the Midtown Theater, named after the first theater that Loeks owned downtown? Or is that too confusing, since it's not really "midtown?"

or how about some name referencing the great, late "Studio 28" like just "Studio"

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I have to say I don't hold out hope that the building will have energy on all sides. I expect it will be activated on the Ionia and Oakes side, but will generally be pretty forlorn facing 131 (think parking lot, mechanicals, service drives, dumpsters). It might get dressed up with fancy plantings that surround the perimeter, but not much else. Just a hunch. I hate being a pessimist.

I like the idea of a unique name. Maybe the Midtown Theater, named after the first theater that Loeks owned downtown? Or is that too confusing, since it's not really "midtown?"

I generally agree with Jeff. It would be awesome to have this project be activated on the west side as well, though.

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I wonder if a development like this would ever consider partnering and selling "air rights". Seems like an ideal spot for more apartments and it'd be great to see a little more density on this lot.

"You build the ground floor, we'll take the 5 above...". Does that happen much in development or does it get too messy/complicated?

Joe

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I have to say I don't hold out hope that the building will have energy on all sides. I expect it will be activated on the Ionia and Oakes side, but will generally be pretty forlorn facing 131 (think parking lot, mechanicals, service drives, dumpsters). It might get dressed up with fancy plantings that surround the perimeter, but not much else. Just a hunch. I hate being a pessimist.

I like the idea of a unique name. Maybe the Midtown Theater, named after the first theater that Loeks owned downtown? Or is that too confusing, since it's not really "midtown?"

The rendering of the theater on page 1 actually has a vertical sign reading "MIDTOWN."

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"For starters, I think they should ditch the "Celebration!" name and signage. Give the theater a classy name and move away from the look of existing Celebration! locations. The current name and signage is really tacky, IMO." I agree. On Harvard Square there is a Dunkin' Doughnuts where the branding is concealed and goes by the name "Eliot Street Cafe." I'm sure there are other examples, but it's the only one I can think of right now. Something similar would be nice for Celebration.. andrew.w points out that the rendering shows a sign that reads "MIDTOWN".

On the subject of architects, I toured FTC&H headquarters as a high school student and have since then been generally underwhelmed by their work. Still, for this theater, I don't think we should hope for anything like the Chicago Public Library, though, like x99, I am also a fan. We already have world-class/innovative/interesting architecture (witness Vinoly's Van Andel Institute). We've half proven ourselves as a city. But we're not there quite yet. For a theater, making a "statement" should be the last of anyone's concern--if, and when, MSU decides to build on the former GRPress site, there is an opportunity to make a statement. But for a theater, some serious, urban, generic, architecture, like that seen on a wide scale in any major city, is what is needed. Nothing fancy, just plain urban (eg. the Chicago AMC discussed above). That, IMHO, is the opportunity to be seized. That, in itself, would be a statement. In a way, it would mean Grand Rapids taking itself slightly more seriously as a city.

As for parking, I am not against on-site parking per se, but there is no reason parking should not/could not be somehow integrated into the building--there are plenty of local examples of that approach, i.e. the UICA, and 38 Commerce, so Loeks/the architects should be well aware of that option.

Finally, to respond to Quercus' comment about the area between 131, the transit district, and Ionia-Oakes, I have always dreamed of something like this for GR: liverpool_one_aw130209_24.jpg

A great way of bridging/integrating urban spaces. This is John Street in Liverpool, but this type of street is seen in Hong Kong, Tokyo and I'm sure other places as well. Something like this would be a nice way of connecting the Van Andel Arena as it expands, to the theater, and environs.

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  • 3 months later...

Just saw this on Facebook. Sounds like GRBJ sounded a false alarm. Whew!

On August 13, The Grand Rapids Business Journal published a front page article incorrectly associating an accounting correction and the viability of a proposed Downtown movie theater project. This inference is not based on fact, and the DDA will be requesting a correction from the paper.

The DDA is excited to continue its work with the development partner and forge onward in making the vision of a Downtown movie theater a reality.

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  • 2 years later...

So happy :)

I'm thrilled that the project has expanded to maximize the use of this land. Though I was already excited to see the theater there as, I was worried it would take up a lot of space that could have had more use. This is the perfect scenario in my opinion.

Can't wait to see some designs.

 

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/03/downtown_movie_complex_will_in.html#incart_river

Edited by GVSUChris
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I'm actually this plan is not dead in the water. The Arena District could become one of the more vibrant areas of downtown with the added retail/housing units. Surprised but happy. This would be a nice get for downtown.

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  • GRDadof3 changed the title to Studio Park - $140 Million Celebration Cinema/mixed use project

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