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Construction underway on new GRCC sign system to help pedestrians, motorists navigate campus, connect with classes and services

Dec. 6, 2021 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Construction has started on a Grand Rapids Community College project intended to inform and inspire -- a comprehensive wayfinding system that will touch all areas of the downtown campus.

A new sign system will help pedestrians and motorists navigate their way through the campus, connecting them with classes and services.

The $600,000 project includes building signs as well as directional aids near roads and on pedestrian plazas, including fresh, modern designs that allow for future growth. It is the first major change to campus signs since the college transitioned from Grand Rapids Junior College 30 years ago.

“GRCC’s downtown campus is easily accessible by private and public transportation and is very walkable,” said Lisa Freiburger, GRCC’s vice president for Finance and Administration, who is overseeing the project. “It also can be a little confusing for visitors because it is so integrated with the city and doesn’t have a true main entrance. This new project will help people find our campus, and also help them find their way around it once they are here.”

Construction started this week with removal of some of the large, blue triangular signs and will continue through the winter, with installation of more than 100 exterior signs.

The college worked closely with Grand Rapids city planners to arrive at an eye-catching style that fits well within the aesthetics of the historic Heritage Hill neighborhood.

Corbin Design of Traverse City was the lead firm, working with GRCC’s Facilities Department and graphic design team. Universal Sign Systems of Grand Rapids heads the construction phase of the project.

“We collaborated to develop a system that incorporates elements of GRCC’s 100-plus years of history, with a contemporary feel.” said Alissa Raddatz, GRCC’s lead graphic designer. “The previous designs served the college well for decades. The new look is forward-facing and classic, with updated branding and a style intended to stay relevant for years to come.”

The design is similar to the one used to highlight GRCC students on banners attached to streetlight poles throughout campus.

Large signs with the current logo will be erected at key intersections to identify where the campus begins and ends. The Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse and Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center will have video display boards to inform students and community members about campus events.

Building addresses will be featured prominently on external signs to assist people following directions on their mobile phones and other devices.

Pedestrian signs with maps are intended to help people traverse the campus on foot, especially those looking to between the nearby DeVos Campus and the Main Campus.

The project also includes changes to assist motorists. Parking ramps have been renamed, using a system of easily memorable letters and colors for each floor. The Bostwick ramp will soon be Parking Ramp A, the Lyon Street ramp will be Parking Lot B, and the DeVos ramp will be Parking Ramp C.

“This is an exciting project that has been years in the making,” said James VanDokkumburg, GRCC’s executive director of Facilities. “The project is the latest in a series of efforts to modernize GRCC facilities to meet the needs of ever-evolving educational programs and serve our greater community.”

Construction is ongoing on the Secchia Piazza, a new space in the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center aimed at hosting classes and events and telling the story of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. Construction earlier this year created a 12,000-foot addition and renovated classes and student areas.

In August, the college celebrated renovations of the historic Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, Steven C. Ender Hall and the Custer Alumni House, as well as the transformation of a shuttered department store into the new GRCC Lakeshore Campus. 


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