The $31 million renovation of Grand Rapids' "Old Federal Building" has landed its new owner, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
, the coveted Gold LEED for New Construction certification. The massive undertaking to muscle the circa 1909 Beaux Arts building
(17 Pearl St. NW) into environmental and structural shape for the creation of art and the education of art students for decades into the future was nothing short of heroic.
A tour of the building with Ryan Idema, TowerPinkster
mechanical engineer who headed up the LEED process for mechanicals, and Lee Cobb, facilities director, was punctuated with enthusiasm for the work, a deep respect for the skilled artisans who made it happen, and a love and respect for the building and the vision of her original architect, James Taylor.
Of the 94,000 square feet, nearly half of it was unused and decaying for decades, Idema says. To maintain its historic integrity, crews had to conceal the new mechanical systems and all their accompanying technologies, even though the building provided very little space above the ceilings or inside the walls. The result was a masterful renovation that showcases the building's ornate wall and ceiling moldings, towering ceilings and columns, and heavy dark wood doors and window frames. The original marble and mosaic tile floors glisten, while hallways and classrooms are bright with daylight.
A handful of the LEED and historic preservation highlights include:
• Replacement or repair of 128 historic windows.
• Uncovering and restoring 23 original 4-ft. by 4-ft. skylights.
• Heat and A/C sensor-controlled systems in all classrooms and offices.
• Energy efficient LED lighting inside and out.
• 100 percent outside air used for venting the metal art studio and ceramics studio.
• Unobtrusive soundproofing and acoustics control in classrooms, lecture halls, and studios.
• Two hydraulic elevators push up from the bottom rather than pull up from the top, to avoid having mechanicals housed on the roof (not allowed for historic preservation purposes).
• Four small high-efficiency boilers heat the entire building.
• Closed loop hydro cooling system.
• Halls lined with the original benches that once occupied the building's courtrooms.
• Discovery of a circa 1909 central vacuum system.
The building opened to students in August 2012.
Construction manager: The Christman Company
Historic Preservation Consultant: Hopkins Burns Design Studio
Source: Ryan Idema, TowerPinkster; Lee Cobb, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University; Chris Knape, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photographer: Justin Maconochie
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