Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The new 125,000-square-foot, four-story LEED Gold L. William Seidman Center is home to Grand Valley State's Seidman College of Business. Its prominent location represents the first step in the expansion of the relatively new Richard C. Pew Campus onto land formerly occupied by warehouses on the west bank of the Grand River.
The building's arched western entrance meets a vehicular drop-off along Front Avenue, which runs northward to the center of the campus. Above, a 122-foot stone, brick, and glass tower serves a beacon for the College and for the University as a whole, and as a landmark for drivers on the nearby elevated US 131. The building is organized by an "S" plan that maximizes natural light to the spaces within and embraces two courtyards: a north-facing courtyard that addresses the street with sculptures from the University's extensive collection, and a south-facing courtyard that offers an inviting outdoor space with stairs and ramps that cascade down to the city's beloved riverwalk. Light-flooded south-facing classrooms and offices capture views to the river and city beyond.
The building provides a 200-seat multipurpose room, a café, student lounges, student services, and a local business outreach center on the ground floor. An outdoor landscaped terrace, as well as classrooms on the second floor interspersed with team study rooms, lounges, and corridor alcoves, foster social interaction among faculty and students. The third floor houses the College's administrative and faculty offices. A trustees' boardroom occupies the fourth floor of the tower and commands views to the campus.
With its buff-colored Norman brick and stone facades, oversized fenestration, and deeply overhanging roofs, the building's low-slung, linear expression takes its cues from the Prairie-style architecture of the Midwest, as well as from Grand Rapids' historic industrial buildings. Taken together, these elements establish an architectural vocabulary that harkens back to key buildings on campus as it sets a new direction for buildings to come.