As of September 5, 2018, we officially opened the doors to our new Westside headquarters at 614 First St. NW, Suite 300, Grand Rapids, Mich. 49504! We celebrated with a donor event and ribbon cutting with representatives of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, community partners, staff and students. Classes for adults and teens began on September 10.
The 22,040 square foot space, occupying the entire top floor of a brand new three-story building at 614 First St., offers the community programming through visual arts and technology engagement, workforce development, and social enterprise, all with a focus on providing equitable access to opportunity for families in West Michigan. Our previous and first location (12,000 square feet at 98 East Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids) was proving too small and prohibiting growth for unique programming across the entire organization.
“We engaged our students and staff in designing a space that is flexible and innovative,” said WMCAT President and CEO, Daniel Williams. “At WMCAT, we are intentional about curating community. This space tells students that ‘you matter,’ that belonging, community and connection are important. It’s a place that inspires creativity and values authenticity. We’re excited to share the new WMCAT with our students, neighbors and community partners.”
After a community-driven capital campaign that exceeded its $8.5 million goal, we were able to move in ahead of schedule and on budget. The facility is located on a block of new development, including the Bridge Street Market.
“I am so grateful to our community for investing in a place where families can achieve income security and young people can elevate their voices,” said Nancy Hickey, co-chair of WMCAT’s Leave Your Mark Capital Campaign. “Our donors believe in equitable access to opportunity and their support of WMCAT is inspiring as we continue to grow and innovate.”
Local architecture firm Lott3Metz custom-designed a space that features Steelcase furniture and the company’s insight-led approach to learning environments and innovative workspaces. Custer, a Steelcase dealer, collaborated to create integrated learning environments that will meet the unique needs of various WMCAT students.
“We’re delighted to support WMCAT as they continue to explore new ways of teaching and learning for today’s students,” said Jim Keane, President and CEO of Steelcase Inc. “Their work to foster a culture of innovation through design thinking helps us all reimagine what education can look like. It’s a joy to contribute to a space specifically designed to spark creativity and accelerate progress in the lives of kids and families in our community and beyond.”
Highlights of the new space include:
- Increased studio, classroom and collaborative spaces.
- Seven studios available for creative programming in arts and technology.
- A recording booth for music and video production.
- A dark room for photography.
- Full-outfitted ceramics studio.
- Specially-designed studios for fiber arts, illustration, and creative computing.
- Four classrooms and one pharmacy lab are available for workforce development programming.
- An innovative, custom-designed training space that is inspired by Stanford University’s d.school and the IBM Innovation Lab.
- A town hall and café area to foster community and connections between students, staff and the community.
- A gallery and teen space to showcase finished projects, and host guest speakers and performers.