Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
The university’s Professional and Graduate Studies program had been in existence for over 25 years without a permanent home on campus. A program for working professionals to secure a graduate degree, classes were scheduled wherever space could be found. Staff and administration were scattered across campus causing difficulties in growing the program.
When a 3-story former office building in close proximity to the campus became available; the University purchased the facility and charged the design team with creating a new home for the program that would mimic a professional corporate look, something the majority of the students in this program would be familiar with.
Working with staff of the University a program was developed to provide learning spaces, administrative, student services space and extended learning space through the use of circulation square footage. A complete analysis of the site and building systems were performed and different layout options were considered; with the successful plan further evaluated against building/fire codes.
The existing interior was completely gutted to structural elements and the existing elevator on all floors. Space was repurposed to accommodate the educational program and the building received a new spacious lobby/entrance addition.
The design team with LEED® accredited professionals incorporated numerous sustainable features in the renovation. New attic insulation and exterior walls filled with low VOC foam insulation maximized energy efficiency. Window replacement with new energy-efficient glazing and energy-efficient LED lighting was incorporated into the building. A Variable Refrigerant Flow (VFR) mechanical system was installed to minimize energy use and maximize floor to ceiling height due to minimal floor-to-floor dimensions.
The ultimate compliment from the happy staff was the assumption we had added additional windows to the building due to the natural light prevalent throughout the facility, while actually eliminating several existing windows.