The city of Hudsonville has long lacked a place for residents to regularly gather, connect, and engage with each other. When GMB partnered with city leadership to create their master plan, conversations around place-making yielded the reimagining of the small town’s center. A bustling highway had long ago split Hudsonville’s downtown, so reorganization for better connectivity was overdue. Creating a permanent space to house this agrarian town’s farmers market was the first step for getting the community back together. But after hearing from residents, GMB knew that the place Hudsonville needed would have to be more than a market. In addition to indoor and outdoor market space, GMB’s design vision grew to include event space, co-working space, and a new cafe or restaurant.
The busy four-lane highway that runs through Hudsonville is known for its history of car dealerships, and the Terra Square building was one itself. The 1950s mom and pop shop was a strategic pick for a community center with its highway visibility and location on a new pedestrian street. From the outside, the building showed a lifetime of neglect. But beneath the lingering debris, GMB uncovered a building worthy of being the place Hudsonville needed. Under the years of clutter, GMB found quality construction and materials. There were glazed concrete floors in need of a polish, wooden trusses waiting to be stripped of their paint camouflage, and a floor layout already defining most of the necessary spaces. The beauty of the design was already there; it just needed to be revealed.
One of the guiding principles for the project was to create useful, connected outdoor spaces. To form outdoor lounge space, GMB added a privacy fence. Event-goers and restaurant patrons can relax in this quiet space sheltered from the suburban highway traffic. Terra Square’s south side features plenty of outdoor space too, for when the market comes to life each Wednesday and Saturday. Another guiding principle was to develop an aesthetic that’s in keeping with the building’s history. GMB kept the old dealership’s garage doors, but installed huge windows in them to allow outside views and sunlight to flood inside the indoor market and event space. The doors are hoisted up on market days to connect all of the vendors and let the summer breeze waft through.
From the beginning, Terra Square received overwhelming community support. Over 90% of the small-town residents voted in support of the master plan-inspired project. And one year after its debut, it feels like the place the city needed. Market days entice visitors in search of the freshest produce and baked goods, and the event space brings in frequent weddings and corporate events. Small business owners rent the co-work space for brainstorming and collaboration, and a farm-to-table restaurant attracts both residents and visitors with its fresh local dishes and outdoor seating.
Other communities are taking notes from Terra Square’s success too. The project was selected as the recipient of the Michigan Municipal League’s 2017 Community Excellence Award, which honors the most innovative community solution each year. The transformation of the existing building at Terra Square is now a state-wide example of urban revitalization. But most importantly, it’s a place for the people of Hudsonville.