Photos and historic detail by Pam VanderPloeg, except where otherwise noted. Copyright 2016 west michigan modern.
Grand Rapids is an exciting place these days with new construction and renovation. Entrepreneurs and business owners are taking a new look at the modern mid-20th century building stock. Look around and you will see many of these buildings of the recent past coming to life again! Here we present a sampling of our favorite buildings, and share historic images and details where available, including architect or builder, if known. Although most of these buildings date from the mid-century modern period in Grand Rapids architectural history, we also include a few from the 1920's. Stay tune - this collection is growing every day and we will continue to add more buildings.
And check out our Google Map self-guided tour of these buildings: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SscH-EMZadNXsInRxEtMvp8SYQ8&usp=sharing
In 2013 Cull Group http://www.cullgroup.com purchased 1432 Wealthy Drive SE, an unusual mid-century office building in the very heart of the historic Eastown Business District. Read more http://wmmodern.com/1431-wealthy-dr-se-cull-group/
At 400 Franklin, ICCF (Inner City Christian Federation) restored this right-sized building that was formerly the home of the VARSITY GRILL, completed in 1954. It was the first building designed by E. John Knapp, of Obryon & Knapp, in Grand Rapids restored by the Inner City Christian Federation. Link here for the story: http://wmmodern.com/new-page-98/
833 Lake Drive opened as a medical office building in 1955. Designed by Donker Engineering. The multi-level building is set into the hill with true mid-century modern style and as of 2011 is the home of LaFontsee Galleries. Read more http://wmmodern.com/833-lake-dr-se-lafontsee-galleries/
822 Cherry SE is a newly opened office building and former headquarters of the Grand Rapids Builders and Traders Exchange. Designed by Donker Engineering, it was built by C.D. Barnes Associates and opened in January 1959. The recent renovation was completed by Malone Development. Read more http://wmmodern.com/822-cherry-se-office-building/
Originally the Transamerica Title Company designed by the Daverman Firm with E. John Knapp, AIA as architect on the project. Completed in the 1960's during the period of urban renewal in downtown Grand Rapids, the building with its striking concrete facade stretches between Ionia and Ottawa streets and is located across from Calder Plaza. Read more to see historic photos http://wmmodern.com/new-page-88/
BRIGHTON GRAYE BISTRO AND LITTLE LUCY'S CAFE are two new food venues occupying out of a cool 1960's building that stood vacant for a few years at 1747 Plainfield Avenue NE in Grand Rapids.
Read more here http://wmmodern.com/grayes-bistro-and-little-lucys-cafe/
The former Ronda Tire Building is now the home of the 8th Day Gym, located at 130 Market SW. This is a distinctive building with its folded plate roof and combination glass and panel walls. It was designed by E. John Knapp in 1958. Watch for historic images and more information on this building - being posted soon. Read more: http://wmmodern.com/130-market-nw-8th-day-gym/
The City and County Administration Buildings are the two best known modern buildings in Grand Rapids and were designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill partnering with local firm O'Bryon and Nachtegall. Read more: http://wmmodern.com/citycounty-administration-buildings/
This stylish brick and glass modern office building was designed by popular builder James Bronkema and restored by Lott 3 Metz as their office. Located at 645 Cherry Street SE just west of Eastern.
The Rowe Hotel on Monroe and Michigan was designed as a modern hotel in 1923. CWD Real Estate made it modern again in 2016 by restoring and converting it to a beautiful mixed use building with apartments and condos. Read more http://wmmodern.com/rowe-apartments-new-life-for-the-rowe-hotel/
Lafayette Medical Building was completed in 1961 and designed by E. John Knapp as a suite of medical offices on two floors. Read more http://wmmodern.com/lafayett/
One of our favorite modern commercial buildings is the Bissell Corporate Headquarters located on Walker St NW in Grand Rapids. Built in 1959 and still the corporate headqurters, the building's architects were Daverman Associates but the lobby was designed by Harvey Earle Associates. Builder was Beckering Construction Company.
Jonnie B'z recently moved one side of Wealthy to this new space on the other side of Wealthy SE in a renovated and expanded former Standard Oil service station that was in used as a car repair facility until a few years ago.
Metal Arts Studio opened in 2015 in a former Old Kent Bank Branch building. The building was transformed when builders un-did the windowless renovation and aligned the building more closely with the original mid-century design, giving it a cool new urban vibe. Read more: http://wmmodern.com/978-cherry-se-metal-arts-studio/
The Donkey Taqueria, a popular restaurant and bar, opened on Wealthy Street in 1920's Spanish - Mediterranean style gas station that had stood derelict for many years. The low profile, brilliant white facade, bright red door and gray trim make a stunning statement among the stately older homes of this historic district. It fits perfectly on its corner site framed by a wrought iron fence and outdoor seating.
The Kingsley Building at 1415 Lake Drive was designed by George S. Kingsley, who is known to have designed buildings in New York and Chicago. The 5-story Art Deco building has anchored the Eastown neighborhood since the 1926. Thanks to the efforts of developer Guy Bazzani, the building with 16 foot high ceilings and plate glaze terra cotta tile has been restored and was added by the Department of the Interior to National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Read more about the restoration of and recognition for this outstanding and iconic building on M-Live here:
This collection was compiled in honor of the tenth anniversary of the annual Docomomo - US tour day on October 8, 2016, "a national event that works to raise the awareness of and appreciation for buildings, interiors and landscapes designed in the United States during the mid-20th century." Consider joining the Michigan Chapter of Docomomo. Link to our Docomomo-US/MIchigan Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/mi.docomomo/ Read more about Docomomo-US here http://www.docomomo-us.org/
Look for these buildings on our Google Map: