The Power House is a reignition - culturally, that is - of a 1956 coal-fired power plant at the Grand Traverse Commons, formerly the grounds of a Kirkbride mental asylum known as Traverse City State Hospital. Many of the original Kirkbride buildings have been developed into a thriving economic center and the extensive grounds still feature specimens of an arboretum including exotic tree species collected by a previous proprietor.
The extant Power Plant building, designed by Louis Kingscott and Associates, is among Michigan’s newly acknowledged abundance of midcentury modernist architecture though certainly not one of the more celebrated buildings. That said, the industrial workhorse that once provided energy to sustain the operations of the asylum and nearby neighborhoods stands as a monument to the strong-but-refined industrial aesthetic that defined its time. The building is immensely valuable for the opportunities it provides, but not so precious to be frozen in a bygone era.
The renovation of the Power Plant building aims to transform it into a cultural hub, anchored by the largest performance venue in the area, in order to expand the site’s attraction to a broad and diverse audience. As a central tenet to the operations, in addition to the live music, theater, dancing, and general merriment, the spatial breakdown guarantees that there will always be something free and open to the public.
The design will provide strategic insertions, ephemeral interventions, and re-programming that juxtapose the industrial aesthetic to contemporary style and perpetual newness. This contrast performs an aesthetic attitude where the old and the new operate independently yet appear as a cohesive assemblage.
This project is currently in the early concept design and fundraising phase. Please don't hesitate to contact Little Brother with any inquiries.
Designed by Christopher Reznich and James Chesnut.