MSU breaks ground on Grand Rapids Research Center


The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center will be located downtown on the site of the former Grand Rapids Press building. Photo by Rachel Weick

Michigan State University broke ground today on its $88.1-million Grand Rapids Research Center downtown, with a vision to create an epicenter for academic research, collaboration and innovation.

The six story, 162,800-square-foot biomedical research center will be located on a seven-acre parcel that formerly housed The Grand Rapids Press building, at 400 Monroe Ave. NW, anchoring a site that MSU officials called Innovation Park.

The center along Medical Mile will be part of the MSU College of Human Medicine and is expected to open in late 2017.

Breaking new ground

MSU officials, business leaders, partners, stakeholders and community members gathered at the construction site, located just west of the MSU College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center, during a groundbreaking ceremony this morning.

Lou Anna Simon, president of MSU, said the groundbreaking on the center is an extraordinary day for “team West Michigan” and “team Michigan State,” which is what the vision for the site is all about.

"It is an Innovation Park, because there is other space to be had, and we purposefully delayed the filling of this space to let all of our imagination come together about what is going to be a pure Innovation Park in the center of a great city, anchored by the medical square mile,” Simon said. “This Innovation Park is another catalyst and hub for the future yet to be imagined.”

Brian Calley, lieutenant governor of the state of Michigan, said the type of work that’s happening in the Medical Mile corridor will be greatly enhanced by the investment being made on the site.

“This community has seen so much success in transforming this area into something that has an amazing and vibrant future, a trajectory and momentum that most communities around the country and around the world are envious of,” Calley said. “That is what is happening here, that is what you make happen.”

The center

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center will include research program spaces and five core labs: bioinformatics, flow cytometer, long-term storage, analytical and advanced microscopy.

The center will have a capacity for about 260 scientific research team members and up to 44 principal investigators and their labs.

Dr. Marsha Rappley, outgoing dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine, said the modern research building is going to be an amazing facility, and it is a very exciting moment to take the next step forward.

“We have this vision and all together we made this happen,” Rappley said. “This has a momentum that is beyond me. This has a momentum that is beyond any of our institutions. We have always talked about what we could do together is so much greater than what we do as individual institutions, and we have that physical evidence going up soon on this site.”

Project details

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center has a roughly $88.1-million budget, including demolition, which was conducted by Pitsch Companies in Grand Rapids.

Funding for the center will be derived from financial gifts, the MSU general fund and tax-exempt financing, with debt re-payment from a number of sources.

SmithGroupJJR, which operates nationally, including offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit, is serving as the engineer and architect of record for the project, while Ellenzweig in Cambridge, Mass. is serving as the laboratory planner and design architect.

Construction of the building will be completed by Clark Construction Company in Lansing and Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids.

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