Aveda Institute invests $3.5M in Heartside’s historic Post Office

First it was a Post Office. Then it was a parking garage. Soon it will be a trendsetting institute for student hair stylists, nail technicians, and makeup experts.

The Douglas J. Aveda Institute plans to set up shop by the end of January in their renovated 14,000-square-foot facility at 138 Commerce Avenue SW. The building is in Heartside, a neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Preserving the historic attributes of the building is crucial. That’s why Darren McKenna, project manager with Lansing-based Studio Intrigue Architects, scoured the country for a manufacturer who could create 54 windows similar to the originals: steel frames, double hung, and tall.

“The tallest window was about 11 feet 7 inches, and they were all 50 inches wide,” McKenna said.

TRACO, a Pennsylvania manufacturer, produced the windows using extruded aluminum frames that match the look of the original frames, and won’t rust.

Other facade renovations include a patio seating area with landscaping and lighting, new front steps off Commerce Street, a revolving front door, and glass sectional garage doors to replace a portion of the west wall.

“When it was a post office there were garage doors there for mail deliveries,” McKenna said, “so it’s keeping in line with the historical significance of that. They will be operable and can open the interior of the school to the outdoor area.”

Inside will be: a retail sales area for Aveda products, 60 hair styling stations, four spa rooms for skin care, four manicure stations, four pedicure stations, and two classrooms that will each hold 30 students.

Wood veneers will be added to some of the interior walls. Other walls will be glass sectional garage doors that match those on the outside. A clear sealant will keep the original brick walls visible, and protect them from damage.

“The interior colors will be bright reds and blues, and people will be able to see the colors from the street,” McKenna said. “It’ll feel very open, warehouse-like, especially on the clinic floor where the cutting and coloring is done. The spa is much quieter, ceilings have been dropped down, and lighting is more subtle.”

An administrative area, a laundry room, a student lounge, and a locker room complete the main floor. Renovation of the second story will take place when the school expands.

“Our institutes are run just like salons,” said Gina Lisenby, VP of business development and operations for Douglas J. Corporation. “These are real guests who are coming in and getting the service, and the students get an amazing experience.

“When we looked at where our students are coming from, and where we could support enrollment for the salon industry, West Michigan was the logical choice,” Lisenby added.

Although the institute offers training in esthiology (skin care) at their Lansing and Ann Arbor locations, and offers only the cosmetology program (hair, nails, and makeup) in Grand Rapids, all services will be available for guests at the Grand Rapids location.

Source: Darren McKenna, Studio Intrigue Architects; Gina Lisenby, Douglas J Corporation
http://douglasj.seal-server.com/institute_about_gr.html

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