The MSU Grand Rapids Research Centre is located at the site of the former Grand Rapids Press building in Michigan. Credit: Clark Construction Company.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the project was held in June 2015. Credit: Michigan State University.
The biomedical research facility was opened in September 2017. Credit: Michigan State University.

The Michigan State University (MSU) Grand Rapids Research Centre is a biomedical research facility that forms part of the university’s College of Human Medicine. It is located at the site of the former Grand Rapids Press building on the corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

MSU’s Board of Trustees approved the research facility’s construction in February 2015. The project was built with an estimated investment of $88.1m and opened in September 2017.

The Grand Rapids Research Centre supports the critical work of more than 200 scientists at the university to advance their research, collaborate with peer institutions, and improve the lives of people in West Michigan. It has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification.

The facility performs core scientific research in several therapy areas, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, paediatric neurology, autism, inflammation, transplantation, cancer, genetics, women’s health, skin cancer, and reproductive medicine.

Location of the MSU Grand Rapids Research Centre

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Centre is located at the MSU Grand Rapids Innovation Park, an innovation hub that aims to advance biomedical research and health technology.

The park also includes the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building, which opened next to the research centre in late 2021. The 200,000ft2 (18,581m2) building was developed as part of a private-public partnership between MSU and real estate developer Health Innovation Partners. It is intended to facilitate the research, testing and commercialisation of new drugs and medical devices.

The North American corporate headquarters of Perrigo, a company that supplies self-care products, is also located at the park. A third building is planned to be developed at the park in the future.

MSU Grand Rapids Research Centre details

The Grand Rapids Research Centre is a seven-storey building with a total floor space of 162,800ft² (15,125m2). The first to fourth floors of the facility include wet bench laboratories, support spaces, long-term storage facilities, researcher write-up areas, dry computational laboratories, administrative areas, and shared spaces.

The fifth floor includes space for future labs and research spaces. In addition, the facility features a vivarium on the sixth floor where live animals are housed in a controlled environment. The vivarium includes holding pens and procedure rooms, offices, an imaging suite and spaces for cage washing, bedding, and feed storage. The seventh floor features a mechanical penthouse.

The facility space initially accommodated 260 members, including 33 principal investigators belonging to the MSU College of Human Medicine’s scientific research teams. Up to 44 research teams can be accommodated at full capacity. In 2017, 25 researchers and their teams moved from the Van Andel Institute to the new research centre.

Design and sustainable features of the facility

The Grand Rapids Research Centre is designed as two parallel blocks, namely a research block and office block. These are joined by a skylit atrium space with horizontal stair connections, which provide natural light for the researcher write-up areas and open office administrative spaces to promote collaboration.

The interiors feature fine stonework for the security desk, stainless steel elevator panels, and veneer wall panels made of anigre wood in the main conference room. Seamless stone tops, coiling smoke curtains, roller window shades and wire mesh partitions are fitted in all the breakrooms.

The facility has been fitted with various types of LED fixtures to obtain LEED Gold Certification. It is equipped with cut-off exterior lighting fixtures, electric vehicle charging stations, and an advanced programmable lighting control system coupled with daylight harvesting. A coloured conduit installation system has also been installed.

The research centre uses 70% less energy than the national average of similar laboratory-type facilities.

Financing for the Grand Rapids Research Centre

The project was built with an estimated investment of  $88.1m, which was funded through financial gifts, the MSU General Fund and tax-exempt financing.

Grand Rapids Research Centre construction details

The former Grand Rapids Press building was demolished prior to the start of construction in April 2015. Demolition works involved removing 20,000ft² (1,858m2) of asbestos floor tiles, 2,500ft (762m) of pipe insulation, and 5,900 fluorescent light bulbs.

More than 90% of the Grand Rapids Press building was recycled, including the copper cladding that lined the roof area.

Contractors involved in the project

Engineering firm SmithGroupJJR was contracted to provide engineering and architecture services for the biomedical research facility, while Ellenzweig, an architecture and planning firm, provided laboratory design and planning consultant services.

A joint venture (JV) of Clark Construction Company and Rockford Construction was contracted to provide construction management services.

Feyen Zylstra, a construction company, worked directly with the Clark-Rockford JV and Smith Group JJR to provide design assist services for the project.

The Kramer Management Group, a consulting firm, served as the Owner’s Representative and conducted various feasibility studies and prepared procurement strategies, while landscape designer Michael Bostic developed the primary designs of a boardwalk near the facility and provided design rendering services.

The demolition of the former Grand Rapids Press building was carried out by Pitsch Companies, a demolition engineering and environmental services company.

Steel construction firm Builder’s Iron, parking consultants Rich & Associates, commercial doors and hardware provider SA Morman, and environmental graphic design firm Roll Barresi & Associates were the other contractors involved in the project.