Shifting from bland to “GRAND!”



As the following photos will demonstrate, when it comes to mixed-use development there can be bland designs and there can be “GRAND” designs. The first two mixed-use buildings (see below) are located in East Lansing and tend to come across as bland, uninviting monoliths. Frankly, there are tombs with more expression and life in their design. Given their appearance, is it any surprise that foot traffic along the sidewalks in front of these buildings is often null and void?

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Just a half-mile to the west in the City of Lansing is a favorite new mixed-use development – Midtown (see below and at the top of the post). While my preference would be for it to be situated a bit closer to the street, the project exudes vibrancy, whimsy, and excitement through architectural design and the use of vivid colors. No drab Earth tones here! Two adjacent retail commercial developments have adopted similar appearances bringing spontaneity and vibe to Michigan Avenue and helping foster the area’s resurgence.




Pre-existing retail center next to Midtown that adopted its exterior appearance/color scheme.

Pre-existing retail center next to Midtown that adopted its exterior appearance/color scheme.

Greater Lansing has had its share of bland development projects. It is nice to see innovative, cutting-edge designs being employed not only at Midtown, but in downtown East Lansing (such as the Broad Art Museum and Albert Place) and in downtown Lansing (such as the Stadium District, Marketplace, Accident Fund HQ, and the Outfield).

Broad Art Museum - Source:

Broad Art Museum – Source:

As more bold architectural experimentation takes place in Greater Lansing, it serves as terrific way to shake off a region’s past rusty image and to chase away the blahs than to bring inspiration, motivation, and most importantly…life to city streetscapes. Namaste!

Accident Fund HQ - Source:

Accident Fund HQ – Source:


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2 Responses to Shifting from bland to “GRAND!”

  1. There’s a building on the northeast corner of Devon and Rockwell Avenues in Chicago which has some artistic paint work. On the ground floor are various businesses. Several floors above this are a parking garage. There might be residential on one side of the building, but I haven’t looked at it yet. Originally there was a dreamy painting of the Taj Mahal covering the parking garage wall on the Devon side. The other exposed sides of the parking garage floors got an abstract paint job with curving lines, polygons, several shades of paint; different hues were used in the different structural sections (vertically) of the garage. It’s a heck of a lot more interesting and lively than bare concrete. More recently, the Taj Mahal painting was replaced by matching abstract paint in yet a different hue; also the 3rd exposed side of the garage floors has gotten the same treatment, of course in a different hue. Some people might not like this artwork. Admittedly, it’s not a trompe l’oeil or an emulation of, say, a Monet impressionist painting. It’s probably what the owner could afford. I have described this as best I can because I’m not sure how well online image resources have been keeping up with the artwork, which has been done over several years. If you can’t see it in person, you can look up the intersection and see what photos are available.


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