Since performing its first concert in 1939, the West Michigan Symphony, a professional orchestra in Muskegon, Mich., has been a vital part of the region’s cultural landscape. In spring 2013, the symphony decided it was time to expand its administrative and ticketing services. It moved into offices in the newly renovated Russell Block Building. Located in downtown Muskegon, a block away from the Frauenthal Theater where the orchestra performs its concerts, the historic Russell Block Building was constructed in 1890.
“With the move, the symphony also realized a long-held dream: establishing a flexible space where we could expand educational offerings and stage smaller fine-arts performances,” explains Carla Hill, the symphony’s president and CEO.
Named The Block, the 1,800-square-foot space offers seating on two levels for up to 150. In addition to providing an intimate venue for a variety of arts performances, The Block is available for meetings and special events. The west-facing windows of The Block look out toward Muskegon Lake. However, there was a problem: Outside the windows, an unimproved and unappealing tar roof marred the view.
“In conversations with the symphony and Port City Construction & Development Services, which planned and managed the building renovation, we started envisioning the transformation of the unadorned roof into a rooftop patio and garden,” says Harry Wierenga, landscape architect, Fleis & VandenBrink Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.