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54Jeff: "Envisioneering" Revitalization

1st Prize

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

Honorable Mention 1

Honorable Mention 2

Honorable Mention 3

Honorable Mention 4

Honorable Mention 5

In 1994, the Grand Rapids Public Museum relocated from its location at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and State Street to the riverfront in downtown Grand Rapids. Ever since, the building at 54 Jefferson has remained mostly vacant. The 1940s era masonry and granite structure still contains many of the original anthropological dioramas, and an addition put on a few years ago houses the Grand Rapids permanent archives.

The team at SiTE:LAB, a ragtag crew of artists, curators, and community activists (whose work we've covered several times here in Rapid Growth), has taken up residence in the building since 2010, transforming the relic of a space into a multi-sensory art sensation and ever-changing community gathering space. But unfortunately their use of the building isn't solidified for the long-term.

Not satisfied with seeing the grand old building continue down the lonely forgotten path set forth in 1994, the SiTE:LAB crew decided to open a design competition called 54Jeff, soliciting design ideas from around the country to reinvigorate the building in a sustainable long-term manner.

The results were stunning.

Entries came in from France to Portugal and from California to Grand Rapids. Architects and designers envisioned the roof opened up, gave reference to the whale skeleton that used to hang in the central atrium, and proposed turning the building into an automated archive viewing contraption, a city theater and entertainment complex, and a crowd-sourced exhibit museum, among other things. Entries have been on display in a gallery at 54 Jefferson and were recently judged by a panel of jurors, with awards of $10,000, $5000 and $2000 given to the top three respectively.

The winner, called Reforestation, envisions relinquishing the old museum to an indigenous landscape of trees and greenery, its courtyard filled with life and light streaming in through the skylights, that could be used for events, education and even winter picnics.

The winners and honorable mentions:

1st Prize:  Danielle Berwick, Vancouver, Canada

2nd Prize (and student winner):  Doonam Back - Architect, Yann Caclin - Architect , Hugo Pace - Intern  -ABC-STUDIO, France

3rd Prize:  Peter Dumbadze- University of Michigan / Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Honorable Mention 1:   Progressive AE - Ned Baxter, Thom Danckaert, Robert Ferguson, Ryan Garone, Chad Gould Adam Hopkins, Bryan Koehn, Nate Meade, Dave Trost, Dan Tyrer, and Jamie Wansten, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Honorable Mention 2:  Vert Studio - Jeff Ponitz, Mariana Diaz, and My-Linh Pham, San Luis Obispo, California

Honorable Mention 3:   Brito.Rodriguez  - Inês Martins de Brito and Gilberto Rodriguez, Lisbon, Portugal

Honorable Mention 4:   Martin Antal, Austin Texas

Honorable Mention 5:  Trampush&Gunn - Bradly Gunn and Aaron Trampush, Seattle, Washington

So how do these ideas get brought to fruition?

If you would like to see all of the submissions, you can check out the 54Jeff website, or see the submission boards up close and personal at SiTE:LAB during ArtPrize at 54 Jefferson.

Jeff Hill is the Publisher at Rapid Growth Media

Images courtesy of 54Jeff

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