Architecture & Design, Construction, and Real Estate

Design firm restores downtown landmark

October 14, 2013
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Design firm restores downtown landmark
A look inside TowerPinkster’s office in the restored 4 East Fulton building at the center of downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via TowerPinkster

A historic — but dormant — landmark in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids will come back to life this week when a respected architectural and engineering firm begins occupying it.

TowerPinkster will officially re-open the former Junior Achievement building on Tuesday. The structure, now called the 4 East Fulton Building, is at the southeast corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street.

The firm is moving its operations and 25 employees to the second floor of the long-vacant structure that opened as the very first home of Davenport College, now Davenport University, in 1947.

Not only is TowerPinkster’s arrival marking the building’s first tenant since 1998, the firm’s move is also marking its 30th anniversary of being in the city and its 60th year of serving the West Michigan market.

“The restoration of this building and our firm’s new workspace are concrete examples of TowerPinkster’s expertise and commitment to community and sustainability,” said Arnie Mikon, the firm’s CEO.

“What excites me even more, though, is the incredible environment downtown Grand Rapids offers to nurture the creative spirit of our team and clients,” Mikon added.

Moving in

TowerPinkster signed a 10-year lease with Locus Development, the building’s owner, in January for all 7,500 square feet of the second floor.

The firm also designed the building’s renovation and will seek interior LEED certification at the Platinum level for its new space.

Pioneer Construction directed the restoration work, which has been financed by Grand River Bank.

Marking history

Before TowerPinkster actually rolls up its sleeves and begins working in its new office, the firm will pay tribute to the building’s previous tenants.

Mayor George Heartwell and M.E. Davenport Foundation President Peggy Moceri will be on hand to help the firm christen its new location.

Moceri’s grandfather, M.E. Davenport, and her father, Robert Sneden, were instrumental in getting the two-story structure built.

As part of its new office, TowerPinkster has created the Davenport Board Room and the Junior Achievement Conference Room to honor the building’s earlier and notable occupants.

“TowerPinkster’s commitment to bring its creative professionals downtown to this historic location is further evidence of the strength of our city and the recognition that a strong urban core is vital to our region’s long-term prosperity,” Heartwell said.

First and lower floors

Grand Rapids-based Locus Development bought the building from Mercantile Bank last year and is looking for tenants to fill the first floor and lower level of the structure, which has an address of 4 East Fulton.

“When other companies see TowerPinkster occupying a well renovated historic building at the core of downtown, it helps to make other firms aware of the opportunity to locate in such a unique, high-exposure building,” said Andy Winkel, partner with John Green in Locus Development, earlier in the project.

“On a bigger-picture level, it’s a sign that creative, high-energy firms want to be in unique buildings downtown. We love to see that,” Winkel added.

Downtown exposure

Before its move to downtown’s core, TowerPinkster made its mark on the district.

The firm has designed key downtown locations such as the Civic Theatre, the Kent County Courthouse and the former Federal Building that now serves as home to Kendall College of Art and Design.

And the firm’s new location gets the architectural and engineering firm closer to the sector’s growing design center.

“We’ve had a desire to move downtown for a long time, but the stars didn’t get aligned until quite recently. We want to be near the leadership of the downtown community,” said Mikon, earlier in the project.

“And we’re in the design business. It is a great move all around,” added Mikon. “In particular, I think it will relate to us attracting the next generation of talent to our firm.”

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