Street Talk: Slam-dunk design


NBA star Steph Curry consults with Grand Rapids architect Wayne Visbeen on his daughter's playhouse. Courtesy Visbeen Architects

Sometimes Grand Rapids imports design talent to make the city more aesthetically pleasing, but sometimes it also exports it.

For example, one of the NBA’s biggest stars is having something designed by a West Michigan architect.

It’s pretty impressive when Steph Curry, the most recent NBA Most Valuable Player and member of the defending world champion Golden State Warriors, picks a Grand Rapids designer to draw up his daughter’s playhouse.

Arguably the greatest 3-point shooter ever made his daughter, Riley, famous last year during a memorable NBA Finals press conference, so she does deserve an extravagant playhouse.

And not just any architect would do. Grand Rapids’ Wayne Visbeen has designed more than 1,000 houses nationwide and has an eye for style. Recently, he has begun to work on some impressive playhouse designs.

Visbeen said he is proud of the design culture in Grand Rapids, so it’s pretty neat to see it go big time with a celebrity, even if it’s on a small scale.

“Grand Rapids is getting noticed, architecturally,” Visbeen said. “What I’ve seen in Grand Rapids, I think our firm and some of the other firms have raised the bar architecturally here. Residentially, we’re one of the most published regions in the country.”

As he noted in the Business Journal story on page 1, “With architecture, good design becomes who you are.” Well-designed buildings become a part of a person, whether it’s their house or their city — or in this case, Riley’s playtime escape.

Visbeen said it can take awhile for a client to realize it, but sometimes, after a couple of years, they call him to say how amazed they are about how the house’s design makes sense and how everything works together seamlessly.

Sometimes it’s what you don’t immediately notice that makes all the difference — like how an unassuming small college player can become one of the greatest ever to play the game.

We have to imagine Riley will find Visbeen’s design a slam dunk.

Wicked solutions

The five finalist teams in the transdisciplinary design competition known as the Wege Prize have been chosen to present their solutions for the rather “wicked” problem of creating a circular economy.

Now in its third year, the annual competition, held this year on May 14 at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, has gone global.

While the Wege Prize has again posed the challenge of designing a product, services or business model that would help shift society toward a circular economic model, the teams, each made up of five students, are now comprised of undergrads from around the world.

Gayle DeBruyn, Wege Prize coordinator and chair of KCAD’s Collaborative Design program, said in the first year of making the competition international, the diversity of students engaged and the depth to which they are developing their solutions has been thrilling.

“We’re very excited to see the full evolution of their ideas. We’re anticipating tangible solutions that could be implemented on a real-world level,” said DeBruyn.

The students in the five finalist teams represent 19 unique majors and 11 colleges and universities from around the world: Anglia Ruskin University, U.K.; EARTH University, Costa Rica; University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Wageningen University, all in the Netherlands; and from the U.S., Roanoke College, Westchester Community College, Rice University School of Engineering and School of Natural Sciences, Belmont University, O’More College of Design, and University of Michigan College of Engineering and College of Literature, Science and Arts.

The teams will present their solutions to a panel of practitioners and advocates of design thinking and sustainability on May 14 for a chance to win a combined $30,000. First place will be awarded $15,000; second place will receive $10,000; and the third place team will receive $5,000.

Blood work

The American Red Cross could really use your blood, if you feel you can spare some.

The organization recently put out a call for eligible Michigan blood donors, specifically for those with Type O negative blood, to make either a double red cell or a whole blood donation.

Nationwide, the Red Cross needs to collect about 14,000 blood and platelet donations on a daily basis to meet the needs of patients in about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers.

“Type O negative donors are an important part of the Red Cross trauma team,” said Todd Kulman, external communications manager for the Great Lakes Blood Services Region.

The reason the Red Cross likes O-negative blood so much is because it can be used with patients of any blood type. Hence, those with O-negative blood are often called “universal donors.” O-negative is often used in emergency situations.

Because less than 7 percent of the U.S. population actually has O-negative blood, hospitals are constantly in need of those donations.

“While all blood types are needed, Type O-negative donations are necessary in emergency situations when there is no time to determine a patient’s blood type. Because there is such a high demand for Type O-negative blood, O-negative donors are needed to donate often.”

To tempt donors, the Red Cross announced that anyone who donates from now through May 15 will be entered to win four single-day tickets to any Cedar Fair theme park in the country.

Donors also will be saving a life, if that wasn’t reward enough.

Appointments can be made by calling (800) 733-2767, or visit, or use the Red Cross blood donor app.

Eyes in the sky

You can now catch a glimpse of the city of Holland without leaving your living room.

The city announced the launch of three public web cameras, which will be available at on any desktop or mobile device.

The first webcam is located at Windmill Island Gardens. The robotic camera streams HD video and can move 360 degrees, including views of the historic DeZwaan Windmill, the antique Dutch Carousel and the Tulip Fields.

Users will have the opportunity to control the Windmill Island camera themselves for a limited time through the end of March.

“By letting the user control the camera, they can explore different areas of the island prior to their visit,” said Matt VanDyken, assistant to the city manager. “We are excited to have this in place before Tulip Time and hope it will encourage visitors to come to Holland after seeing the beautiful scenery.”

Two additional cameras, provided by Holland BPW, are located at the Holland Energy Park construction site. These are fixed HD cameras that cannot be moved.

The two webcams allow users to watch the progress of the new state-of-the-art Holland Energy Park.

“By giving viewers a live video feed of our construction site, the community can witness milestones from the comfort of home,” said Dave Koster, general manager of Holland BPW.

The city will alert residents through social media when special activity can be seen on camera, including major construction milestones at the Holland Energy Park, DeZwaan Windmill turning, or other special occasions.

There are plans to install two additional cameras later this summer near downtown Holland and Kollen Park.

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