The Woodbridge N. Ferris Historic Federal Building has served its Grand Rapids, Mich. community for over a century—first as a federal courthouse and post office, and then as the longtime home of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. It can now add another role to its résumé as the newest home to the Kendall College of Art and Design, part of the Ferris State University Campus.
TowerPinkster (architecture) and The Christman Company (construction) painstakingly renovated the five-story Beaux Arts building, which had fallen into a state of disrepair over the decades. The process, KCAD President David Rosen notes, wasn’t without its challenges.
“Recasting [the building] as an educational space for the 21st century was difficult, since we could not easily remove walls or change the character of the building. In some cases, we were able to enlarge spaces and reshape them by removing unimportant interior walls—this gave us a fashion studio and collaborative design classrooms. We also pushed one of the post office bays to the ceiling, keeping it intact, to create a side entrance from our decorative arts corridor into our main art gallery.”
The redeveloped building provides the college with a new auditorium, library, art exhibition galleries, café, expanded classroom and workshop space, and an art supply and bookstore, as well as a home for the Wege Center for Sustainable Design—an appropriate location, given the building’s new LEED Gold certification.