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Transformation of GRCC’s Ender Hall earns national honors for project architect Progressive AE

Dec. 17, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The transformation of the Mable Engle House into Grand Rapids Community College’s Steven C. Ender Hall has earned project architect Progressive AE national honors for historic preservation. 

American School & University, a magazine covering operations of educational facilities, saluted the project in its 2021 Architectural Portfolio edition, highlighting it in the Outstanding Design in Historic Preservation category.

“Steven C. Ender Hall looks wonderful,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “But more importantly, it helps our college meet our students’ needs. We are grateful for Progressive AE’s thoughtful collaboration on this project, making Ender Hall a place that will serve our students and community for decades to come.”

The building, 455 E. Fulton St., was constructed early in the 20th Century by a lumber baron for his family. GRCC purchased it from Davenport University for use as offices.

The 3,850-square-foot Steven C. Ender Hall is used for student-focused departments, including the Experiential Learning and the Honors programs, and Student Employment Services. It also provides space for Student Life clubs and organizations to meet. A ribbon-cutting was held in August.

“Preserving landmark buildings like this is the right solution for maintaining a connection to the past, while making a strong commitment to the future,” Progressive practice leader Tod Stevens told the publication. “One of the best ways to be sustainable is to renovate rather than building new, so giving new life to the historic structure was a great first step.”

Progressive AE worked with GRCC, local building officials, and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission on the $3.4 million renovation.

“It was a good challenge for us, recovering the building’s grand interior after more than a century of renovations that had significantly changed the upper floors,” Stevens told the publication.

“A space like this is what make a community college so vital today – they are critical in helping students transition from high school to the next stage of their learning journey, whether continuing education or entering the workforce. We have found that success comes when a student feels comfortable, and when they feel that they belong. To that end, the space is designed to create this sense of belonging – relaxed, low-threshold, inviting and accessible so students feel safe, welcome and included to engage their full potential.”

The project earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification for Commercial Interiors, a national standard established by the U.S. Green Building Council. GRCC held a ribbon-cutting in August for the building, which was named for President Emeritus Steven C. Ender.

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