Steelcase to Donate 'Pyramid' Building to Education Initiative

By Rich Christianson | Posted: 03/08/2014 3:24PM

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase Inc., having failed to find an acceptable offer for its iconic former headquarters, is reportedly looking to donate it to a newly established non-profit group that would use it as a STEM-focused education hub for students of all ages.

click image to zoomSteelcase Inc.'s iconic 664,000-square-foot pyramid, built on 125 acres, can be purchased for $19.5 million. The company's former headquarters and research facility opened in 1989 at a cost of $111 million. Last fall, Steelcase drastically reduced the asking price for the 664,000-square-foot building situated on 125 acres, formally known as Steelcase's Corporate Development Center, to $19.5 million. That was well below the $111 million price tag that Steelcase spent in 1989 to develop the seven-story building that includes 333,000 square feet of office space, 242,000 square feet of research and development space; plus a 15,000-square-foot cafeteria, 12,500-square-foot data center and an 8,000-square-foot photo studio.

A non-profit group calling itself Pyramid P20 STEM Education Hub would be the beneficiary of Steelcase's donation, according to MLive. STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is also the catch-phrase for the renewed interested in technical education gaining ground around the U.S. Students ranging from preschool through graduate school would participate in a community of charter schools and programs established at the pyramid building.

MLive observed that the proposed start-up STEM program has generated many questions, including:     

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  • Who is driving the non-profit and its vision?

  • How would the new program interact and/or potentially impact existing educational programs in the area?

  • Who will pay for programs and maintenance of the massive facility?

Last month, Michigan's state senate approved $5.5 million in funding for the project. But the state house rejected the funding, though it could be reinstated, MLive reported.

The media outlet quoted state Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) as saying he could not support funding for the project without far more detailed information. I would be very disappointed if this passed without a real understanding of the project detail, where the money is going and what’s it for,” he said.

Steelcase reported net income of $23 million in the third quarter, down 2.5% from a year ago even as its Q3 sales climbed 7.9% to $784.8 million.

 

 

About the Author

Rich Christianson

Rich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at rchristianson@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.


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