Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Project Details


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre


Grand Rapids, MI


24,000 Square Feet




2021 (Phase 1)

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre facility is a collection of six buildings along Library Street and Division Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. In order to increase their educational programming, performance diversity and overall accessibility, the Civic Theatre engaged in a master planning effort with Progressive AE in the summer of 2017.

We identified that children’s educational programs were at capacity and the theatre needed more rehearsal and classroom space for their youth programs. Because of the prime downtown location and historical significance of the building, moving was not an ideal solution.

In order to maximize existing space, Progressive AE helped the theatre access currently unused and inaccessible parts of the building, finding space for the client to grow their program within the existing building. As a 90% volunteer-run organization, the Civic Theatre takes pride in its large collection of sets and costumes, and also wanted to organize these assets.

The resulting master plan identified multiple renovations and additions within the facility to meet the evolving needs of the Civic Theatre. While fundraising is ongoing for future project phases, immediate funding was available to perform work in a Phase 1 project.


Reinforce brand strength/identity and embrace their diverse future as a cultural center.
Promote a student-centered and authentic educational experience that encourages growth, enhances partnership opportunities, and spotlights their expertise.
Create unique, flexible environments that stimulate a diverse and holistic experience for all.
Foster an effective operation and empower a culture of opportunity to reinforce organizational sustainability.
Inspire a culture of collaboration that promotes the Civic Theatre as “the place” to work and volunteer.
Create a new educational space and rehearsal hall to expand programming.
Provide code compliant and accessible travel to the upper floors of the Botsford Building, where office, rehearsal, and storage resides.
Simplify overall wayfinding and vertical circulation in the facility.


Designed a new staircase tying into the existing historical character of the building, and added an elevator to access all levels of rehearsal and storage space, including levels that were previously inaccessible.
Precisely inserted a new steel structure, from basement to roof, to provide clear span floors and open new possibilities for rehearsal and office space in the future.
Added windows and new LED lighting to stair area, bringing natural light into the space and enhancing wayfinding experience at night.
Reinforced the basement with special underpinning and chemical grouting techniques to support the new stair and steel structure.
Began renovations in third floor rehearsal space.
Re-organized costume and set piece storage spaces.
Modified existing sprinkler coverage in the stairwell.
Connected new mechanical systems to existing building to provide heating and cooling to stairwell and rehearsal spaces.