Architect E. John Knapp of Obryon & Knapp (see Architect's Profile p.4) was hired by Edward Thompson, an anesthesiologist at St. Mary's Hospital, to design the building. Thompson interviewed several architectural firms and Knapp remembers that they got the job because he was the only architect who really explained the whole process from design to build.
Knapp enjoyed working with Thompson because he gave him freedom of design with few restrictions. Thompson had several medical people already committed to his building so Knapp was also able to incorporate their specific needs.
Thompson liked Knapp's original sketches and okayed the design. Knapp used the popular mid-century "lattice style" concrete block for the walls. The ramp on the exterior connected the two floors on the outside, and a floating stairway added style to the interior. Knapp designed an outdoor courtyard for the lower level.
When it came time to choose materials for the facade, Knapp listed several possibilities to Thompson. The idea he liked best was tile, so they went to Detroit to see an Italian tile-maker, work out the design concept and pick the tiles. The tile-maker, who Knapp remembers as a "very small wiry man," made up the tiles in a modular format measuring 4 x 8 feet. He brought the tiles to Grand Rapids and installed them himself.
In 1960, the West Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded the building an Honorable Mention in the Commercial/Industrial category.
Transamerica Title Company
Completed while E. John Knapp worked for the Daverman Firm in Grand Rapids. The Transamerica Title Company was two floors stretching between Ottawa and Ionia streets in downtown Grand Rapids across from Calder Plaza. It has an interior floating stairway visible from Ottawa and a striking concrete facade. The building has a small profile especially due to its position between the adjacent high rise buildings. The exterior is intact except for the original covered parking.
North Park Presbyterian Church
North Park Presbyterian Church was completed in 1962 with an unusual round design easily visible from busy 1-96 in the North Park neighborhood annexed by Grand Rapids in the 1960's.
The Lovell-Laramy house, 1958, was designed for educators Mary Laramy and Ida Lovell by E. John Knapp and built by Lovell’s brother Paul. The setting was the old Greenridge Country Club. The design features post and beam construction, glass window walls, brick fireplace wall, many built-ins and some original flooring,
Ronda Tire Building
In 1957 Knapp designed a new building for the Ronda Tire company at 133 Market St. SW that would allow them to get into the retread business and install the new equipment they needed for this business. They also wanted the building to be attractive and modern looking. They wanted a very good looking building and what resulted is one of the more iconic mid-century commercial buildings in Grand Rapids. It now operates as the 8th Day Gyn,