The Grand Rapids Ballet Company
341 Ellsworth Ave SW Grand Rapids MI 49503 Map
- Size: 16,000 sq. ft.
- Type: Recreation
- Definition: Addition
Design Plus was hired by the Grand Rapids Ballet Company (GRBC), the only professional ballet company in the State of Michigan, to provide architectural, interior design, and mechanical/electrical engineering for a 16,000 SF addition to its present location to address the unrealized potential to draw a substantial and diverse audience. Ballet supporters cherished the intimacy of performances in studio spaces, but seating capacity was very limited. For shows of any scale, the Grand Rapids Ballet was forced to seek a larger performance hall, which sacrificed the informal “see the dancers sweat” feeling of a personal performance. Supporters of the Ballet Company embarked upon a quest to add a 300-seat auditorium to its current facility which would offer a personalized performance experience to its enthusiasts, allow the public to view select performances free of charge, and provide dancers with a full-sized stage utilizing the industry’s latest technology.
To bring the art of dance to the general public, a downtown presence was a necessity for the Ballet. The building’s adjacency to the Grand Rapids public transit system aids in its outreach. The Ballet has become a permanent fiber within downtown Grand Rapids’ artistically rich fabric. Maximizing landlocked and uneven property was the first challenge to a decision to remain at the original location. Through the purchase of nearby property and a street abandonment, the site was reworked to allow additional parking. The City is a strong proponent of responsible storm water management, which was achieved through pervious paving of the new lot. Landscaping decisions were guided by use of native species that require little maintenance and no irrigation system.
The former building now houses the Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s general offices and a series of teaching studios, offering extensive and diverse classes to the public. The new addition offers not only auditorium space, but also enlarges the scene shop and costume shop. An expansive lobby and gathering area is the focal point of the building’s street presence, with a transparent façade to showcase lighting on a feature wall. Concentric circles were the basis of lighting designed for the space, a theme that resonates throughout the building to suggest movement. A large feature wall is painted in swirling metallics, wall covering is highly textured, and cork flooring in the main lobby assists the acoustics and warms the space.
The “green” roof of the addition is covered in flowering plant materials year round. The roof of the former building is home to new photovoltaic panels, which supplement power to the previous construction. The addition is designed with sustainability in mind to continue offering a venue for dance for generations to come. Construction cost was approximately $2,500,000, and the project was completed in October 2007.