February and March, 2001

February and March, 2001

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This month’s WWW History Column (The Way We Were) will continue from where I left off last Newsletter.  Last Newsletter’s History Articles included miscellaneous newsletter items from Nov., 2000 through Feb., 2001.  This month we’ll continue with Feb. and March, 2001 – but more specifically, EXPO 01 which was held at English Hills on February 1, 2001.


February, 2001:  At that time in our Chapter’s History, this EXPO 01 was actually our 10th Annual Product Show, the first one being held in March, 1992 at the old Meijer Banquet Rooms on Plainfield Ave. near 5-Mile Rd.  We quickly outgrew that location and started having the Product Show at Grand Rapids Community College ATC Center on March 10, 1994 and February 9, 1995.  That location space was very limited and we actually had about 30 to 35 booths set up in the Atrium on all 3 (or 4) levels.  We started holding the Product Show at English Hills Golf Course on February 1, 1996 where we had space for 50 booths.  We had more room at English Hills, however, we had to snake our way from the North Banquet Area to the South Banquet Area through a single narrow passageway.  That central location between the two areas was always a massive bottle-neck.  Oftentimes, it also served as a networking area when people met going in both directions.  I can’t remember how much networking actually happened that day because 1996 was also the year that our Product Show attendance was drastically affected by a massive blizzard.  I remember that a sales rep from the Detroit area was in to see me at WBDC and she also wanted to stay over for the Product Show.  Since she was not familiar with the traffic flow in Grand Rapids, I had her follow me from downtown to English Hills.  The visibility was so bad that we were only moving at about 25 – 30 mph and I had to follow the highway guard rails around the curve at the interchange from NB US-131 to WB I-96 and up the ramp at Alpine Avenue.


March, 2001: The program for that month was one of the most memorable in a long time.  On March 8, we toured the new Steelcase Wood Plant which was nearing its final stages of completion.  In 1985, Steelcase purchased the Stowe Davis Wood Furniture Company and subsequently moved their wood furniture operations to a new building on 68th Street near Patterson Ave. in Caledonia.  The Steelcase Wood Plant was a Design-Build team project by URS Corp. and OAK Construction who combined their efforts in one of the area’s largest ever LEED Certified Building Projets.  The 625,000 sq. ft. building was the largest commercial project in the world at that time to complete and receive the LEED Certification.  Key personnel from URS included Mark Barnikow and Bernie Wernette; the Steelcase personnel included Don Chase, Scott Linsey, and Roger Lamer; while the OAK personnel included John Keelean, Brad MacEvoy, and Kelley Bublitz.  CSI Chapter Past President, Bernie Wernette, indicated that the project qualified for U S Green Building Council’s “Pilot Program” under the following categories:

  1. Sustainable Site Credits:
    • Selected a site with minimal wetlands,
    • Stock-pile top soil for re-use on site,
    • Use of berms as screens,
    • Use of low maintenance native grasses requiring little irrigation,
    • On-site water detention ponds to store storm water run-off from site and building roof,
    • Retention ponds to provide water for irrigation at the main entry.
  2. Site Restoration Credits:
  • Requires one tree be planted for every 1000 sq ft of paved area,
  • Design required native, hardwood trees used in the manufacture of furniture,
  • Trees will be interwoven throughout the site, along the drive, and in parking lot islands,
  • Trees provide shade and block heat build-up from pavement,
  • Provide bike racks and paths for alternate employee transportation,
  • Provide on-site showers for employees riding bikes,
  • Parking lot equipped with electric plug connections for recharging electric cars planned for the 21s Century.
  1. Restrictions
  • High VOC emissions, Halon, CFC’s, HCFC’s.
  1. Requirements
  • Must contain recycled materials,
  • Materials must be shipped from 300-mile radius to reduce energy used and air pollution.
  1. Construction required extra measures to assure that specified products met LEED criteria. Roof insulation was found to be available only in Ontario using approved blowing agents.  About 90% of the structural steel contains recycled steel.  Structural steel had to contain at least 20% post-consumer or 40% post-industrial recycled steel.  Foundation concrete required recycled aggregate.  Pre-cast wall panels had to be locally produced and used in a natural state requiring no paint or additional sealant or maintenance.  All subcontractors were required to provide documentation of compliance with LEED program.  OAK provided on-site waste management system and monitored indoor air quality assuring a smoke-free, healthy environment.  Separate waste bins were provided to allow the recycling of waste products used in construction.
  1. A special BEAST (Building Enterprise Automatic Systems Technology) energy management control system was used to monitor and control equipment operations.

Author: Christopher Alexander

Christopher is a registered Architect and Architectural Revit Coordinator at Progressive AE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to Revit and BIM, he dapples in web design, CSI, and enjoys spending time with his wife, 4-year-old, and 1-year-old.

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