Ferris State University Kendall College of Art and Design

Federal Building Renovation

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

As a formidable and stately presence in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, the historic “Federal Building” started life in 1909 as Grand Rapids’ Federal Post Office and Courts which occupied the building until 1981. The City of Grand Rapids then renovated the first three floors for the Grand Rapids Art Museum which left in 2007. Since that time, the building sat vacant and deteriorating.

Because of the building’s immediate location across the street from FSU’s growing Kendall College of Art and Design, TowerPinkster, HopkinsBurns Design Studio, and The Christman Company worked closely to rehabilitate and repurpose the building as a twenty-first-century academic learning environment for art and design programs, studios, lecture halls, exhibit galleries, classrooms, and offices while providing stewardship of an important building by preserving its historic, character-defining features.

Exterior granite was repaired and cleaned, 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 primary circulation and gathering spaces. Complete new M&E systems were integrated with the existing structure to create contemporary energy-efficient operations for such disparate 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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