GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A growing Grand Rapids architect firm is moving to the space above the Shade Shop in the city’s West Side.
Pure Architects currently has its office space at 180 Monroe Ave. downtown, above Mojo’s bar. The firm has outgrown the space, founder and CEO Zach Verhulst said, leading to the move to 422 Leonard St. NW., west of US-131.
“We’ve been growing like crazy,” Verhulst said.
Verhulst, who grew up just four minutes away from the Leonard Street location, said he’s always eyed moving the firm to the West Side.
“Positioning us on Leonard Street has kind of always been a desire of mine,” Verhulst said. “It’s a pretty special place for us to be and it means a lot for me to be able to invest back in the Leonard Street.”
He said the firm is working to fit into the neighborhood and be respectful. It recently went to the planning commission to work out a parking plan so that it doesn’t take up retail spots, Verhulst said.
“We are trying to build some partnerships in the neighborhood,” he said.
Pure Architects, which bought the 15,000-square-foot building it is moving to, will be doing some renovations, including putting in a new elevator and upgrading electrics. The new offices will be located on the second floor, a 5,000 square-feet space that used to house Golden Gloves gym.
“We see it as opportunity to kind of put our money where our mouth is and really prioritize these people in that place,” Verhulst said. “I feel like a lot of architects design their office like it’s their client’s office. It’s for a client experience. And I think for us it’s … this behind-the-curtain look for how we work and how we have fun.”
The firm is seeking a WELL Certification, which prioritizes a healthy indoor space for employees. Renovations will include installing a nice kitchen, couches and mobile technology, while preserving “the historic character of the space,” Verhulst said.
On the first floor, the Shade Shop will be staying put with its new landlords.
“That’s like a staple West Leonard business,” Verhulst said. “They’ve been there for 70 years I think. … So they’re going to stay.”
Pure Architects is working with several local companies for the renovations, including Foresight Management, IGNYTE DESIGN and Wolverine Building Group.
“We’re really trying to be intentional about that spend of dollars. So Frontier Electrical is a Black-owned electrician, R&R is a Hispanic-owned mechanical contractor,” he said. “We’re trying to be pretty intentional, keeping the money like on Leonard Street or in certain communities.”
The CEO said it’s important to them to help local companies.
“We’re getting a good amount of publicity and sometimes the opportunity to work on important projects or to have that staple renovation for smaller companies is hard to procure,” Verhulst said. “Providing opportunities for people to work on projects that are meaningful and can make good money on is something we try to do.”
Verhulst grew up on the West Side working for his dad’s landscaping business. He went to Grand Valley State University before moving to Detroit, where he went to architecture school and then worked for around six or seven years.
He eventually moved back to West Michigan, where he worked at two different firms. He left in February of 2020 to start his own company.
Pure Architects is currently working on multiple projects, including The Diatribe’s new Division Avenue headquarters, something Verhulst said will be a “really impactful, special project.”
“Clients are attracted to our work and our process, and I think our disposition and attitude to design,” Verhulst said, adding they take a human-centered approach. “We really value a lot of opinions and a lot of fingerprints on the work.”
Pure Architects is half way through the design process. Construction is expected to start in June, and the staff is hoping to move in this September.
— Correction: A previous version of this article included the incorrect link and spelling for IGNYTE DESIGN. We regret the error, which has been fixed.