Ferris State University Kendall College of Art and Design

KCAD Woodbridge N. Ferris Building Renovation

Grand Rapids, Michigan // 92,000 sq. ft.

As a formidable and stately presence in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, this historic building started life in 1909 as a courthouse, post office and also housed the field office of then-congressman Gerald R. Ford. More recently, the building had been the site of the Grand Rapids Art Museum until it moved to a new facility in 2007.

Through an innovative public-private partnership, the university invested about $22 million in the project to expand the Kendall College of Art & Design (KCAD) campus with additional classroom, office, studio and exhibition space. TowerPinkster partnered with HopkinsBurns Design Studio and The Christman Company to rehabilitate and repurpose the building into a twenty-first-century academic learning environment. The building features studio space, lecture halls, exhibit galleries, classrooms, and offices while providing stewardship of an important building by preserving its historic, character-defining features.

As a result of the renovation, the now named Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, received LEED Gold certification and also won a Governor’s Award from Gov. Rick Snyder for the preservation and restoration of the historic facility.  The expansion gave KCAD the space to nearly double their enrollment.

The project included repairing the cleaning the building’s exterior. The original windows were restored and retrofitted with insulating glass, and the roof was completely replaced. Primary historic interior spaces – with elaborate stone floors, ornamental plasterwork, and detailed wood trim – were restored as circulation and gathering spaces. New M&E systems were integrated with the existing structure to create contemporary energy-efficient operations for such environments as ceramics studios, metal welding, lecture spaces, galleries, and offices. Once-covered skylights were uncovered and restored to allow for natural light. Selected interior walls were removed to create larger classroom and studio spaces. The design was developed in close collaboration with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, National Parks Service, and U. S. General Services Administration to achieve compliance with historic preservation standards.

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