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Haworth highlights GRCC Lakeshore Campus as an 'inspired design,' and example of successful community collaboration

Sept. 1, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The GRCC Lakeshore Campus is being highlighted by Haworth, the Holland-based office furniture manufacturer, as an “inspired design” and example of a public-private partnership strengthening a community.

Haworth was a partner in creating the 52,000-square-foot-campus, providing furnishings and equipment used throughout the building. The GRCC Lakeshore Campus opened a year ago as a consolidated location for Grand Rapids Community College’s Ottawa County programs, and about 1,000 students are so far enrolled to take classes there this semester.

The company highlighted GRCC in its blog, “Spark – Workplace insights that ignite ideas,” looking at the how the building went from a shuttered JCPenney department store into a vibrant learning space.

The post, “Transforming vacant mall space into a place for higher education. See how a strategic real estate choice creates the perfect environment for students, faculty, and the community” includes a case study and video with interviews with several GRCC leaders.

“What was a blighted mall and felt like something that was a failure in the community has been transformed into something that will help students succeed, and it will raise the vitality and the economic prosperity of the whole region,” said Dr. Kathryn Mullins, GRCC’s vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation.

The campus opened in August 2021 in the Shops at Westshore Mall, 12335 James St. in Holland. The facility has nine classrooms, four computer labs and five unique labs for biology, chemistry, electronics, automation, welding and machine tooling, housing programs for students working toward an associate degree or a career-focused certificate.

The building also has spaces for advising and counseling and other student support services and a satellite library, as well as areas for use by community groups.

The GRCC Facilities team, directed by Jim Van Dokkumburg, oversaw the transformation. GMB Architecture + Engineering designed the project, and construction was directed by The Christman Co.

Haworth highlighted the collaborative culture that helped the project take flight and be successful.

“The new GRCC Lakeshore Campus represents the value a community college provides in helping students fulfill their dreams,” the article reads. “A spirit of collaboration carries through the space itself, with central gathering spaces for pairs and small groups, as well as large gatherings. The vitality of the new campus has energized the surrounding area, too, bringing in new restaurants and shops. A large open area is used to host campus and community events. Plus, faculty and staff now experience the benefits of working together face-to-face and report an increase in collaboration and communication.” 

The story notes opportunities for local employers to collaborate on training at the campus, noting the specialized rooms “provide spaces where students gain the skills they’ll use to drive innovation in future jobs as well as entrepreneurial ventures. Many manufacturers, including Haworth, benefit from GRCC’s state-of-the-art technical training programs, while students learn valuable skills close to home that will help them earn more and advance in their careers.”

Other community donors include the Brooks family, the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, Gentex Corporation, GMB, Herman Miller, Hudsonville Ice Cream Company, and Patrick A. Thompson and family.

The project earlier in the year was highlighted in Architect, the journal of the American Institute for Architects, and named an “Outstanding Project” in the Community College Renovation/Adaptive Reuse/Restoration category by Learning by Design magazine.

The Washington-based AIA is the leading professional organization for architects and design professionals. Learning by Design showcases the best in the education design and construction market, recognizing innovative pre-K to 12 schools and cutting-edge colleges and universities.