The New Piazza for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at GRCC

Jul 11, 2022 | Member Project Spotlight

The New piazza for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College is slated for completion in September 2022.

Granger Construction began work on Grand Rapids Community College’s Applied Technology Center New Secchia Piazza in October 2021. The 2,550-square-foot building is slated for completion in September 2022.

Grand Rapids Community College received a $5 million investment from the Peter Secchia family to construct a new piazza for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. The project involves transforming an existing outdoor patio at the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center into an enclosed multi-use space that incorporates a decorative oculus skylight that includes colorful glass panels.

This project will allow GRCC’s world-class culinary education program to serve more guests by providing more dining space and creating more opportunities for culinary students at the College to expand their skills to prepare for the hospitality industry. The new addition will not only be used by GRCC students, faculty, and staff but will also impact the greater community by providing an event space and a place to come to reflect and connect to the Secchia Institute.

Understanding the potential for the Piazza to attract the community to the resources offered by the Secchia Culinary Institute, the College chose to expand the project to include the renovation of its Heritage restaurant, the teaching restaurant for the Institute. One key feature of the renovation will be replacing storefront glass with sliding glass doors, providing a new connection between the Piazza project and the restaurant. In addition, finishes, lighting, and furniture will be updated to create an environment more similar to those its graduates will encounter in fine dining after leaving the program.

Faced with a few challenges of lead times and product availability, Granger Construction combated this by onboarding a specialty glass contractor for design-assist, working closely with the architect and engineers, and providing an efficient submittal process. Because of this, Granger was able to avoid several long lead impacts on this project.

More specifically, several special products used together to improve acoustics in the space presented special coordination challenges for the project. Bringing together stretched acoustical fabric ceilings, polymer fabric ceilings and laser-cut acoustical plastic panels on a custom fabricated aluminum structure was only possible through multiple onsite meetings and collaborative mark-up of drawings. An element that made Granger’s job easier within this project was using pre-cast treads for the steel stair.

While working on the project, Granger shares that the Architect of this project went above and beyond. Progressive AE and Granger have worked in a very collaborative relationship to ensure the owner’s goals were met and that the project meets the College’s iconic vision.

Another key player and element that went above and beyond for Granger and their project were Glass Solutions Inc. (GSI) and their design-assist partner for the skylight portion of the project. The planning, execution, and creative brainstorming with their team to find solutions on the fly saved the project cost and schedule on multiple occasions.

There are many unique characteristics in Granger’s project for the New Secchia Piazza. There are four significant ones, noted in detail by Granger Construction.

  • There is a cone-shaped skylight that is 31 feet wide and 15 feet high serving as the project’s primary design feature, creating an iconic piece of architecture on the GRCC campus. This is the first time Granger has been involved in constructing one of these unique skylights, which features 20 colored glass panels which are 1-5/16” laminated glass with a colored film inner layer in seven shades of oranges, yellows, and greens. The glass is set in a painted aluminum frame that serves as the center portion of the ceiling for the new addition, creating a kaleidoscope of light that will illuminate the room while also serving as a beacon for the campus that will be highly visible along the downtown Grand Rapids skyline.
  • Between the room’s suspended acoustical tile ceiling and the skylight above, custom laser-cut plastic panels colored to match the skylight glass are supported by a custom-fabricated aluminum structure to improve room acoustics while also enhancing the experience of light and color in the room.
  • Centered beneath the cone-shaped skylight will be a 30-foot diameter polished concrete floor with steel/metal inlays to create a unique form of circular art. The metal panel inlays will be designed by GRCC artists to evoke the educational pathway students take from the Secchia Institute to culinary opportunities across the country and around the world.
  • Outside, the new addition will feature a terrace deck with views of the city, accessed by oversize sliding glass doors which also introduce fresh air and breezes to the event space.

This is the first project where Granger has worked with Grand Rapids Community College. Landing a job with a new client is always significant to their company, no matter how big or small. Granger strives to always go the extra mile for all of their clients, but it is imperative for any new client that they have to take the time to learn what is important to them. This understanding enables them to focus on how best to achieve their goals for the project and all stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of client delight.

This project was significant to Granger Construction in many ways. Reflecting their hard work, in January, this project was selected by WOOD TV8’s Christa Ferguson as being among the 10 projects changing the Grand Rapids area in 2022.

While this is a smaller-scale project based on size and dollars, this is an iconic building with complex designs and signature features that will leave a legacy for GRCC and the community. Granger believes that this project reflects the College and the city’s identity as being a cultural magnet. It is one of many projects helping to reshape the campus and the city, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing GRCC’s vision to reality.

Innovation is a driving force behind Granger’s success, so the ability to be part of such a creative facility like this that provides a distinctive and unforgettable space is a great opportunity and privilege. This historic and cultural contribution will have a ripple effect on the campus and its students and staff as well as the surrounding community by adding another layer of richness and diversity to the City of Grand Rapids.

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To learn more about Builders Exchange of Michigan member Granger Construction, visit their website here.

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