Education ‘hub’ pays $7.5M for Steelcase Pyramid


The Steelcase Pyramid in Caledonia was designed as a 663,000-square-foot center for innovation. Courtesy Pyramid Campus

A group is planning to transform the landmark Steelcase Pyramid building and surrounding 181 acres into a campus-size “hub” of education.

Pyramid Campus said today that it has finalized a $7.5-million purchase agreement for the 1989 Steelcase Pyramid in Caledonia, at 6100 E. Paris Ave. SE — which it plans to convert into the Pyramid P20 Campus.

The anticipated close date on the agreement is next February and includes a commitment by Steelcase in Grand Rapids to collaborate on the research and design planning for the learning environments at the 663,000-square-foot space for students from preschool to college.

The campus will focus on STEAM learning — or science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Renovations by Pyramid Campus are scheduled to begin immediately after the close of the sale. Renovations and new construction should be completed by next fall.

Closing the deal

Jerry Zandstra, co-founder of Pyramid Campus, said the group has worked on the deal and related plans for more than a year to get to this point.

“We have been in hundreds of conversations with Steelcase,” Zandstra said. “We have been in dozens of conversations with school districts, teachers and administrators. We are very excited to take ownership of this incredible facility and retain full control of design, build out and programming.”

The building

The Steelcase Pyramid was originally designed as an engineering and manufacturing hub with 450,000 square feet of open space and 202,000 square feet for designated areas: manufacturing research and development, test labs, IT resources, two commercial grad film studios and industrial kitchens.

Dave Sylvester, chief financial officer at Steelcase, said the Pyramid site required a unique vision for how it would be repurposed.

“It was originally designed as a place to inspire innovation, and we’re pleased that it now has the potential to inspire future generations of innovators,” Sylvester said.

Campus-size project

The Pyramid Campus group announced plans earlier this year to renovate the building and the surrounding acreage into a collaborative and incubator-type educational environment.

Pyramid Campus is working with Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids on the renovations, new construction and for strategic property management counsel.

Kurt Hassberger, president and chairman of the board at Rockford Construction, said the project falls into the firm’s wheelhouse, with their prior experience on collaborative spaces like Grid70 and Blue35.

“Rockford has a deep commitment to education-related projects,” Hassberger said. “We also have a long history of repurposing high-value properties and bring to bear strong expertise in managing innovative collaborative spaces.”

Renovations at this point are expected to be largely cosmetic.

“This building is solid,” Zandstra said. “We don’t need to do much demolition. The plan is to retain an open learning environment, utilizing moveable walls for ultimate flexibility and collaboration. We’re very excited to get started.”

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