A new brochure
map from AIA Grand Valley provides a guide
to 52 important West Michigan buildings.
ultimate superiority in any tightly competitive
field is rarely easy, but if you thought
you experienced brow-furrowing deliberation
over your mock ballot at a friend's Oscar
party, Ted Lott has something for you to
Over the past
year and a half, members of the American
Institute of Architects Grand Valley Chapter
debated their picks for the best buildings
in the region.
Those discussions bore 52 selections,
all of which are included in a new guide map
— AIA Grand Valley Architectural Tour for Grand
Rapids, Holland, Muskegon - that will be available
Lott, a principal with Lott3Metz Architecture
and AIA Grand Valley member, volunteered to chair
the chapter's ad hoc committee responsible for
researching the selections. The committee also
included Phillip Lundwall, senior design principal
with Progressive AE; Dan Iacovoni, associate
partner with Cornerstone Architects; and Rebecca
Smith Hoffman, co-owner of historic preservation
consulting firm Past Perfect, who was hired as
a consultant on the project.
Robert Daverman, senior architect with Progressive
AE and AIA Grand Valley director and past president,
According to Lott, four core criteria were used
in deciding which structures would be included
in the guide.
- Does the building have a prominent designer?
- Is the building itself prominent regardless
of the designer?
- Is the building an important economic driver?
- Is the building an institutional
driver or a "pillar
of the community"?
Such focused consideration resulted
in an interesting mix of architecture styles
and periods, from
the Calkins Law Office — the oldest standing
building in Grand Rapids — to Maya Lin's
Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle, to the Van Andel
(pictured above), which was designed by the Southfield
office of international design firm Rossetti
Historic churches such as St. Mark's Episcopal
Church line up alongside more contemporary spaces
for worship such as the Eric Mendelson-designed
Temple Emanuel or Marcel Breuer's St. Francis
de Sales Parish, (pictured below), of Norton Shores.
"We're architects, and we certainly
love beautiful buildings, so that's obviously
to be part
of the discussion," Lott said. "But
to be honest, in our presentation here we felt
that architecture and design — if it's really
good — has more to it than just being pretty.
So (the criteria) was really our effort to honestly
address the import of some of the history of
The project also may help bring attention to
the history of the AIA itself, as the national
organization celebrates its 150th anniversary
"Obviously, it's a happy coincidence
that we'll roll this out in the year of the 150,
whole idea behind the 150 is to give back to
the citizens of the U.S.," said Nate Gillette,
architect with Bazzani Associates and incoming
AIA Grand Valley president. "I think it
is going to be a very useful tool to help raise
the awareness of architecture and the spaces
"We interact with buildings
every single day of our lives, but people have
no idea what makes
a building important, what makes a building
significant. I've always felt that we should
try to work to
raise this awareness, and I hope this will
The chapter hopes to distribute the maps through
area chambers of commerce, major hotels and the
Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Plans are
also in the works for an accompanying podcast.
"You can always find an architect
willing to talk," Lott
added with a smile. GR