GR Forward revealed Grand Rapidians aspire to make the large plaza surrounding the Kent County Administration Building, Grand Rapids City Hall and La Grande Vitesse more inviting and comfortable for people to use everyday.
This collaborative community process is designed to reimagine and revitalize this important public park space and realize the plaza’s full potential.
The process is facilitated by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. in partnership with Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids.
The project goals include:
- Leverage the plaza to its fullest potential.
- Establish a world class public space.
- Honor the plaza’s cultural heritage.
- Improve access and mobility.
- Embrace the plaza’s historic role as a governmental plaza.
- Activate the plaza during all seasons.
- Catalyze future development.
- Provide iconic experiences for current and future generations.
This page serves as the repository for the project process, outcomes and all relevant background information.
Improvement: Phase One
After shaping a new vision for the plaza in 2017 - see below - the project partners are currently organizing to implement the first phase of improvements on the southeast corner of the plaza. The work is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2019.
Full Conceptual Vision for Calder Plaza
DGRI on July 25, 2017 presented the City Commission with the final conceptual master plan for transforming Calder Plaza in to a great gathering space for Grand Rapidians.
Conceptual Renderings of the Preferred Alternative for Calder Plaza
All renderings in JPG format.
Participatory Process Framework
The process to re-imagine, redesign and revitalize Calder Plaza continues to unfold as follows:
Preliminary Design for Phase 1 Improvements (2018-present)
November 2018 // Engage Construction Manager *Tentative*
- Presentation to Downtown Development Authority (November 14, 2018)
October 2018 // Complete Concept Design Package
- Steering Committee convenes (October 5, 2018)
- Presentation to City Parks Advisory Board
September 2018 // Develop Phase 1 Work Plan
- Steering Committee convened (September 14, 2018)
August 2018 // Select Consultant
- Selected Progressive AE to lead Phase 1 implementation of the Master Plan.
June 2018 // Organize for Phase 1 Improvements
- Issued Request for Qualifications to provide design and bidding services for Phase 1 implementation of the Master Plan.
Conceptual Master Planning (2016-2017)
July 2017 // Plan Approval
- Presentation of final DRAFT Master Plan to City Commission (July 25, 2017)
February 2017 // Plan Recommendation
- Steering Committee convened to consider and recommend final DRAFT Master Plan for City Commission approval (February 7, 2017)
January 2017 // Plan Refinement
- Consultant team refined DRAFT plan based on Steering Committee and stakeholder comments
November 2016 // People’s Choice: A new DRAFT Vision Unveiled
- Steering Committee convened (November 11, 2016)
- Downtown Resident Network presentation (November 11, 2016)
- Ongoing stakeholder dialogues
August-October 2016 // Evaluate Options
- Public exploration of different opportunities and decisions.
- Online community survey in English and en Español. (Open until September 23, 2016)
- Design workshops with steering committee and issue focus groups. (September 26, 27)
- Community Workshop #2 - Discussing conceptual options. (6:00 PM August 30 at City Hall)
- Ongoing stakeholder dialogues
- Steering committee convened (August 30, 2016)
June-July 2016 // Imagine the Possibilities
- A burst of ideas from the community.
- Online community survey in English and en Español. (Now Closed)
- Community Workshop #1 - Visioning the possibilities (June 28, 2016)
- Steering committee convenes
- Focus group discussions (June 28, 2016)
- Operations & Management
- Economic Development, Merchants & Tourism
- Creating a Welcoming Public Space
- Special Events & Programming
- Arts, History & Culture
- Neighboring Tenants
All documents in PDF format.
- Phase 1 Improvements Kickoff Meeting (September 14, 2018)
- Final DRAFT master plan presentation to City Commission (July 25, 2017)
- DRAFT proposed Calder Plaza master plan presentation (November 11, 2016)
- A Plaza Full of Options (August 30, 2016)
- A Plaza Full of Potential Kick Off Presentation (June 28, 2016)
A Plaza Full of Options
Grand Rapidians convened on August 30, 2016 for a community forum to review and evaluate a series of conceptual possibilities for redesigning Calder Plaza.
This video features landscape architect Mike Albert of Design Workshop presenting a variety of options and choices for the plaza's redesign. These preliminary concepts are based on public input gathered through the public survey, community visioning workshop and focus group discussions in June.
The presentation was followed by an interactive survey of meeting participants to gauge interest in and support for the various alternatives. Click here - in English and en Español - to take that survey and share your views on the alternatives presented in the video immediately below.
All files in JPEG format unless otherwise noted.
- 1956 concept of City-County complex, and the plaza, on the Grand River.
- 1965 project plan of City-County complex showing fountain feature.
Keeler Bridge (1980's)
- Keeler Bridge over Monroe Avenue looking northeast.
- Keeler Bridge over Monroe Avenue looking southwest.
- Keeler Bridge over Monroe Avenue looking north.
- 1980's view of plaza looking west.
Vesta sculpture by Nathan Horowitz (Installed 1973; Photos from the 1980's)
- Vesta sculpture looking up stairwell.
- Vesta sculpture at top of stairwell.
- Grand Rapids sculptor Nathan Horotwitz remembered for 'great heart' (Grand Rapids Press)
GR Fwd (2015)
Citizen Steering Committee
- Tommy Allen, artist
- Richard App, artist/event producer
- Ace Covey, Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club
- Sam Cummings, CWD Real Estate Investment
- Dana Friis-Hansen, Grand Rapids Art Museum
- Lindsey Gadboid, TowerPinkster
- Jorge Gonzales, Start Garden
- Kristian Grant, Sydneys Boutique GR
- Matt Patulski, digital consultant
- Elizabeth Ransford, historian
- Chris Reader, Spectrum Health
- Scott Stenstrom, 5/3 Bank
- Eddie Tadlock, Devos Place
- Duke Turley, event producer
- Lynee Wells, Williams and Works
Phase 1 Improvements Design Team (2018-present)
- Progressive AE is an architectural and engineering firm based in Grand Rapids, MI.
Conceptual Master Plan Design Team (2016-2017)
- Design Workshop specializes in landscape architecture, planning, urban design and served as project manager.
- Marlon Blackwell Architects is a design centered critical architecture firm that assisted in the design and execution of the visionary ideas for Calder Plaza.
- ETM Associates specializes in public space management and operations. They helped ensure the designs for Calder Plaza have a long-term maintenance and operations plan.
- RWDI are wind engineering, microclimate and human comfort specialists who helped optimize the Calder Plaza redesign from a human perspective.