Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Fulton Street Farmers Market (FSFM) represents a strong civic commitment to a 90 year old Grand Rapids institution. Beginning with the Brikyaat Redevelopment Plan in 2005 (AIAGV Honor Award 2007), a vision for an improved and expanded FSFM was presented. While the Brikyaat Redevelopment Plan showed a remarkable willingness to remove housing and reconfigure the existing street grid to accommodate an expanded FSFM, the willingness was tempered by ignorance as to how big a new market should be. As the detail of the Brikyaat’s Intervention Plan shows, our initial ideas were ambitious – no less than 90 individual properties would have been affected by market expansion and the new street grid. Working towards implementation, the neighborhood and the design team worked on two fronts: exploring renovation/expansion alternatives while hiring Project for Public Spaces (PPS) to complete a feasibility plan for market expansion and a business plan for moving forward.
In our review of renovation and expansion alternatives we discovered that smaller, incremental improvements would address a limited number of customer and vendor concerns but yet leave major market infrastructure deficiencies unaddressed. Furthermore, our smaller plans were met tepidly by potential funders of the project.
The feasibility and business plan was much more fruitful. Not surprisingly, PPS found the vision for the market in the Brikyaat Plan to be overly optimistic and financially unsustainable. But PPS also found significant business and demographic indicators recommending an expanded market on the existing land that would include updating infrastructure while enhancing both the customer experience and vendor amenities.
Additionally, the PPS report recommended: constructing a year-round market building; expanding and enhancing the existing public plaza at the south end of the market; constructing a permanent shed for vendor and customer cover; maximize on site parking and improve site circulation; encourage alternative modes of access to the market; incorporate green design principals into all aspects of the market; explore additional leasing of market spaces beyond traditional vending and market business hours; and to retain the existing market management.
The final design revolves around the complex urban relationship between the plaza, new market building, the new shed, and the street. Our solution envisions the new market building located on the west side of a plaza that connects directly to the market shed. We introduced a colonnade to further define the uses within the plaza space: pedestrian circulation occurs on axis to the market shed between the building and the colonnade while cart vending, seating, and bike parking occurs to the east. The building and the plaza’s colonnade holds the streetwall while the shed and its endwall define the open space and holds the urban composition in confident assurance.
The shed, itself, opens up in plan at the termination of the plaza and steps, due to site constraints, narrower and narrower as it runs to the north. Customer parking is located at the north end of the site fed by a revised circulation pattern that enhances customer access internal to the site.
The Market Shed & Plaza opened for business in May 2012. The remaining construction of the year round building is ongoing and will be completed in December of 2012.