GRAND RAPIDS, MI – (For Immediate Release) – With its ornate paneled ceiling, intricate woodwork, and magnificent columns, the lobby of the old Michigan National Bank was one of the downtown Grand Rapids’ historic treasures. But the stunning 6,000 sq. ft. space, which dates back to the 1920s, had sat empty for more than a decade after the bank branch closed.
Then, in 2012, the bank lobby received new life when it was converted into a ballroom for the CityFlats Hotel, located in an adjacent building. This rejuvenation was accomplished with help from LiveSpace (Grand Rapids, MI), which designed and installed the room’s lighting and sound systems, and Elation Professional lighting products.
Now a coveted venue for wedding receptions and other functions, the conjoined ballroom and hotel – known as The Ballroom at CityFlats -- are themselves a marriage made in heaven, according to LiveSpace’s Todd Ernst. CityFlats had been a hugely popular 28-room boutique hotel since opening a year earlier, but lacked space for banquet facilities. The unused second-floor bank lobby (banks were often constructed on upper levels back then to protect against robberies) had drawn numerous inquiries from local residents who wanted to rent it out for an event.
“The bank building’s owner had a lot of people approach him about doing something commercially with the space, but basically they wanted to gut it. He refused to do it because of the historical implications,” said Ernst. “Finally the hotel owner contacted him and said they were interested in turning it into a ballroom, which fit in perfectly with the vision of what the building owner wanted to maintain.”
LiveSpace was awarded the contract largely because its vision of the project and strong commitment to preserving the room’s historic grandeur coincided with that of the owner, Ernst said. “He obviously picked up on our enthusiasm, ambition and dream for the room.”
One big part of this dream was to bring out the beauty of the room’s pillars and other exquisite structural features with lighting. LiveSpace lighting designer A.J. Sweeney used a package of Elation Professional LED and moving head fixtures that included: 8 x Platinum Beam 5R; 8 x Design Wash LED 60; 16 x Design LED 36 Tri-Brick; 16 x Opti Tri 30; 16 x Opti Tri Par; Emulation lighting control software; and an Opti splitter.
“We were under very close scrutiny of the building owners to make sure our integration blended seamlessly with the overall classic, yet updated, design and feel of the room,” said Sweeney. “The goal was to be able to create an impressive coherent and holistic design that could transform the atmosphere of the room into anything the end-user desired. At the same time, we were tasked with making sure the room maintained the integrity of its original design and looked natural when the lights were powered off.”
Elation provided an ideal solution to this challenging set of requirements. “We knew they wanted something unique, extravagant and affordable. With Elation, we were able to marry all those preferences into a design that was very versatile with fixtures that could be customizable to accommodate the vast spectrum of events that they plan on hosting. Using the movers (Platinum Beam 5Rs) as the starting point helped the design stay flexible so that the end-user could focus on a presentation speaker, wedding head table and so forth,” Sweeney explained.
The Elation RGB LED fixtures came into play when considering light output, lens through and affordability. “The DLED 36 Tri-Bricks, Opti Tri 30s and Opti Tri Pars met all three,” said Sweeney. What’s more, by using both RGB fixtures and the Platinum Beam 5Rs, which have a CMY color mixing system, “we could create colors or logos (with gobos) to match anything the end-user would want.”
The biggest physical challenge of the project, said Sweeney, was cable management – “getting the cable through the building’s original chases while making the integration appear as though it is essentially wireless.” Another challenge was lighting the pillars, since the owner “didn’t want ANYTHING on the floor,” noted Sweeney. “It was a delicate balance to make sure we were able to showcase the room’s structural beauty without the pillars having to compete with the visual presence of the fixtures.”
This was achieved by positioning the lights in raceways under the domes and around each side of the room’s main pillars. “The challenge was that we couldn’t get power or wire more than 6 feet from the edge of the room. This again is where the movers came in advantageous when needing to get light anywhere in the room.”
LiveSpace’s efforts and inventiveness in updating and enhancing the versatility of this historic venue, while preserving its charm and elegance, were affirmed on opening night, when the building owner exclaimed, “This room FAR exceeded my expectations.” Guests, too, described The Ballroom at CityFlats as “stunning,” “beautiful and breathtaking,” and “a gift to downtown Grand Rapids” -- one that will undoubtedly write its own chapter in the city’s history for a long time to come.
For more information contact:
Elation Professional at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
LiveSpace at 616-929-0191 or visit www.lsavl.com