Design Meetings Set This Week

January 24, 2005
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HUDSONVILLE — Various city officials and area business leaders will interact with architects throughout the region this week at three design charettes being put on by the Grand Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Grand Valley) and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance.

The meeting may very well be the first of its kind.

“In developing the charettes, AIA Grand Valley and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance have obtained the input of planning representatives, regional leadership and the area design community,” said Robert Daverman, AIA Michigan regional director and organizer of the charettes set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville.

“All three charettes have been designed to reflect the first product of Gov. (Jennifer) Granholm’s Land Use Leadership Council that encourages municipalities to plan future development jointly, House Bill 4284, as well as to leverage the West Michigan Strategic Alliance and their partners as they build a regional collaborative mindset,” said Daverman.

The bill Daverman referred to became Public Act 226, signed into law by the governor in December 2003. The act gives municipalities the right to make land-use plans together and establish joint planning commissions for a jurisdictional area.

The act was designed to encourage cooperation among cities and townships regarding land-use issues and to make planning decisions clearer for developers of projects targeted for an area where it could affect more than one municipality.

Daverman said he expects more than 40 architects and planners to participate in the three-day event that he hopes will result in a regional mindset being set for the Grand Rapids, Holland, and Muskegon area.

Daverman also hopes the charettes will create a basis for state and community grants for expanded study opportunities; allow applications to be made to the AIA Regional & Urban Design Assistance Team; and give municipal planners and business leaders a chance to talk with architects at the regional level.

Grand Rapids Planning Director Bill Hoyt and his counterpart in Walker, Frank Walsh, will participate in one charette.

Holland City Planning Director Phillip Meyer and Holland Township Planning Director Jon Mersman will team up for another.

The third will feature Muskegon Mayor Nancy Crandall, Cathy Brubaker-Clark, Jerry Bartoszek, and Dick Maher. Bartoszek and Maher are from Norton Shores, while Brubaker-Clark joins Crandall to represent Muskegon.

Hoyt said another factor that separates this charette from others he has attended is this one is crossing jurisdictions. He is hoping the architects can offer ideas on how the city and Walker can revive blocks of old factories located a half-mile east, north and south of the intersection at Alpine Avenue and Ann Street on the northwest boundary of the two cities.

“We want to get their perspective and design issues on how that area might develop. I think between Frank (Walsh) and our department we have a pretty good understanding that we’d like to see that area redevelop. We’re thinking it is an industrial area now, so it will have an emphasis on industrial redevelopment,” said Hoyt.

“One of the things the AIA can do for us is get us to look at some of the physical design issues on how the area might lay out, and how it might be promoted as an industrial redevelopment area,” he added.

David Downey, executive director for the national AIA Communities By Design Knowledge Center, will be the event’s special guest. The charettes will have a different topic for each of the three days and include bus trips through the three charette areas.

A detailed agenda is available by calling Daverman at (616) 447-3436 or e-mailing him at Reservations are required.    

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