Monday, March 13, 2023 | Congratulations to the Grand Rapids Community College ATC Secchia Piazza project team as they were honored with a Washtenaw Contractors Association 2023 Pyramid Award on Friday, March 10 for Best Project Team for projects $3 – $25 million.

The new Secchia Piazza at GRCC involved transforming an existing outdoor patio at the Applied Technology Center into an indoor multi-use space. The renovation included many innovative and challenging features, the most notable being a 31’ wide by 15’ tall cone-shaped skylight with colorful glass panels that reshaped the campus and serves as an iconic landmark in downtown Grand Rapids. Other key features include a custom flooring feature designed by GRCC artists, a Live Roof system and renovations to the Heritage Restaurant, a teaching restaurant for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

One of the biggest construction challenges on this project involved site logistics, as the building is located on the corner of a busy downtown Grand Rapids intersection, which left little to no room for laydown space. Additionally, the work within the building took place above and adjacent to occupied spaces.

The most prominent design feature of the new Secchia Piazza was the oculus (cone-shaped) glass skylight system called the Skycone, which is the first of its kind. This architectural feature included 20 colored panels, each made up of 1-5/16” laminated glass panels with a colored film inner layer in seven shades of oranges, yellows and greens. The glass was set in a painted aluminum frame, and the entire system serves as the center portion of the ceiling for the new piazza addition. Creating this kaleidoscopic roof system was exceptionally challenging given both the design itself and the size and type of glass materials used. 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 is a 30’ diameter polished concrete floor with steel/metal inlays, creating a unique form of circular art. The metal panel inlays were 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 features 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 project required collaboration, highly skilled craftmanship and extensive coordination to ensure success. The team navigated extremely tight site logistics in a high-traffic, occupied facility and overcame numerous supply chain and volatile market challenges. In the end, they delivered a distinctive space that will leave a legacy for GRCC, its students and the surrounding community.

The Architect on the project was Progressive AE.

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