Stair Week: Two Months After Kickoff

Posted November 6, 2013 in Public

In the light filled atrium lobby and with the stairs as its center piece, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) played host to a leadership breakfast kickoff on September 3.  Representatives from Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects, US Green Building Council, and the International Interior Design Association were on hand to celebrate the inter-sectoral collaboration between health, design and the environment. 

Local media including WOOD TV, WZZM, WGVU, the Grand Rapids Press, and El Informador all covered Stair Week West Michigan.  Adding to the partnership were the United Ways in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties.  KCAD-designed stair signage made its way to workplaces, offices and classrooms in the region.

Mercy Health

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Who else has joined the movement? Haworth gave Stair Week a global electronic shout out from its worldwide headquarters in Holland. During ArtPrize, these designs with the message “Get Healthy, Save the Earth, Take the Stairs!” were spotted at the new Downtown Market and DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, to name just a few. 

Designers have long recognized stairs as placemakers:  they give energy and a sense of place to many buildings. “The trend today is to bring these energies to the front of the house. Lighting, sculpture, acoustics, colors and accessories are all ingredients in the recipe,” said Joyce Lee, FAIA, LEED AP, founder of Stair Week.

Exterior stairs are not to be forgotten either. While ArtPrize puts a frame around the three mile block downtown in Grand Rapids, the KCAD pop-up park puts a processional frame on the stairs in front of 17 Pearl St. NW.  Setting up the intentional design dialogue in this procession were planters, pavers, angled benches, vegetable plots, and Habitat for Humanity sheds.  "The pop-up park provided a much-needed connection between our two learning environments, the Fountain Street building and the recently renovated Woodbridge N. Ferris building. The green space complemented the grand entry stairway and ramp and the ground treatment invited pedestrians to reclaim territory previously dedicated to the automobile. With all the new pedestrian activity, we rediscovered a beautiful perspective view from St. Mark's Church all the way down Pearl," said Vic Liptak, Dean of the College. A time-lapse of the pop-up park can be seen here.

Ottawa and Muskegon county buildings were also major supporters.  Muskegon County Administrator, Bonnie Hammersley, offered, “Muskegon County, through its health department, has established a public private and non-profit infrastructure to promote health and well-being. The stair week campaign will complement very well our efforts already underway. Built environment improvements like making more stairs accessible will greatly contribute towards our health goals.” Ottawa County Administrator, Al Vanderberg, added "Ottawa County is ranked as one of the healthiest Counties in the State. Participating in Stair Week is another way County residents can add physical activity to their day, making Ottawa County a healthier place to live, learn, work, and play.”

In Kent County, taking the stairs at the Gordon Food Service Corporate Headquarters is not only a healthy, energy-saving way of getting from one floor to the other, it is also a visual experience.  Staircase inspiration in the 386,000 SF building includes sweeping vistas of artwork and encouraging statements that reinforce the Gordon Food Service mission and values.

“We designed the stairs in the building to be more than utilitarian methods of transportation,” said Scott Vyn, LEED AP, Integrated Architecture Director of Design.  “The facility is a carefully crafted business tool that supports employee productivity and creativity, and the stairs are part of that equation.”

“We applaud the many organizations involved in promoting good health, by asking employees and visitors to consider taking the stairs,” said Daryl Delabbio, Kent County Administrator.  “From schools to businesses, from government agencies to the private sector, we saw a great spirit of collaboration on this project. We believe this gentle reminder at elevators and escalators encouraged many people to select the healthier option: the stairs.”