Grand Rapids Community College Lakeshore Campus

Project description

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering classes on Michigan’s West Lake shore, in four disparate locations, for more than 20 years. In August 2021, the college celebrated the transformation of a former JCPenney department store into a vibrant learning center for students with the official opening of a new centralized campus in The Shops at Westshore mall.

The transition from a “big box” environment to a university campus is no small feat, but a particularly ripe opportunity when considering the needs of educational institutions and the ability to adapt the space of underutilized retail today.

The new GRCC Lakeshore campus creates a new identity, access and integration for the full range of its academic programs. It does this with the sustainable and affordable reuse of existing retail space. It operates the mall’s remaining retail businesses as “third space” neighbors, providing students with a robust atmosphere in which to have fun and continue to engage. And it renews the mall’s role as a truly active mixed-use anchor in the Holland Lakeshore community.

The vast interior space has not only been converted into laboratories and classrooms, but the exterior of the building has been completely transformed by cutting out the exterior brickwork to allow natural light to enter the vast space, establishing a presence modern and welcoming while saving as much of the existing building envelope as possible to meet the project budget. In addition, the building will be LEED certified as part of the GRCC’s sustainability goals.

A consolidated campus creates synergy and collaboration between programs that are physically co-located and establishes a robust learning facility. This unique community asset makes education more accessible to all residents of Holland’s Lakeshore community.

About Byron G. Fazio

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