Federal Building Renovation Project Earns Award for Historic Preservation

Federal BuildingGRAND RAPIDS – Preserving the history of the Federal Building, during a recent renovation, earned Ferris State University and its Kendall College of Art and Design a 2013 Governor’s Award.

The award recognizes the collaborative efforts that transformed the historic Federal Building into a LEED Gold-certified facility that is now equipped for a new educational mission centered on the arts. At the same time, the team maintained the historical integrity of the building, located at 148 Ionia Ave. NW, to earn praise from Gov. Rick Snyder. The Federal Building was one of six projects that will be recognized by the governor when awards are presented Wednesday, May 1 in a public event beginning at 9 a.m. in the Michigan State Capitol Rotunda.

“We were delighted to hear the great news that the Old Federal Building project is set to receive the state’s highest preservation honor,” said Jim Cash, president of Christman Capital Development Company, the project developer. “The vision that Kendall and Ferris had to revitalize and transform this significant structure has truly come alive with their determined efforts, and we are proud to have been part of the public/private partnership that made it happen.”

When the Federal Building earned its LEED Gold certification, Cash noted, “Between Ferris, Kendall, architects TowerPinkster (engineering) and Hopkins Burns (design), Christman and so many others, the vision of a sustainable teaching environment helped shape the team’s decision-making every step of the way.”

The Federal Building facility for Kendall, one of the largest art and design schools in Michigan, expands its campus into 91,000 square feet of new classroom, studio and gallery space. The building’s fourth floor features the Wege Center for Sustainable Design, made possible by a $1 million gift from philanthropist Peter Wege.

Dedicated in 1911, the Federal Building has throughout its history served as a courthouse, a post office and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The building is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

Total cost of the renovation project was about $28 million. Financing was made possible through a public-private partnership drawing upon a number of city, county, state and federal resources.

The renovated Federal Building features new spaces dedicated to, among other programs, three-dimensional art, ceramics, art history, metal sculpture and sustainable design, in addition to common areas for students and expanded office space for faculty. It also houses substantial space for exhibitions, lectures and other community gatherings.

In addition to the Federal Building, Gov. Snyder plans to recognize five other projects with awards on May 1. The other recipients as released by the governor’s office are:

  • The Old Rugged Cross Foundation, Inc., D. Layman Construction Company, and the Community of Pokagon Township, for the restoration of the First Methodist
    Episcopal Church of Pokagon (Old Rugged Cross Church), Pokagon Township, Cass County;

  • Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc., Tom Roberts, Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., Grand River Builders, Inc., and the Greater Coldwater Community for the restoration of the Tibbits Opera House, Coldwater;

  • Glenn D. and Jeanine Head Miller for the rehabilitation of the Milton and Kittie Geer House, Superior Township, Washtenaw County;

  • Neighborhood Service Organization; Fusco, Shaffer and Pappas; O'Brien Edwards Construction; and Kidorf Preservation Consulting for the rehabilitation of the Michigan Bell and Western Electric Warehouse (NSO Bell Building), Detroit; and

  • The Detroit Land Bank Authority for demonstrating a true understanding the value of historic preservation through the NSP2 rehabilitations it completed in Detroit historic districts


Through the awards, Gov. Snyder honors people who go above and beyond to preserve history in the state of Michigan.

“Each year the Governor’s Award program gives us an opportunity to recognize and thank just some of the people responsible for preserving Michigan’s rich cultural heritage,” State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway said in a release. “The projects we recognize are merely a fraction of the work being done throughout Michigan to preserve historic buildings and archaeological sites, and transform communities.”

To learn about previous Governor's Award projects, go to: www.michigan.gov/shpo.

Last updated: 08-15-2013