Standing in the middle of a no-mow field in Gaines Township, Michigan, the former Steelcase Pyramid looks like something built by a robotic pharaoh from the future, but these days it’s just a vacant oddity.
Steelcase, a top manufacturer of high-design office furniture, built the unique building in 1989 to act as a research and development center, and they really went for it. Above ground, the pyramid is seven stories tall, mainly housing office space, as well as a fancy penthouse on the sixth floor. A massive pendulum hangs from the interior peak, extending down to the main floor, past the balconies of all the other stories, swaying over what was once a reflecting pool.
Beneath the above-ground pyramid are massive sub-levels built to accommodate workshops and testing labs, where new furniture and materials could be manufactured and stress-tested. They had huge freezers to see how cold would affect their product, and sound-testing rooms with an adjustable ceiling that could alter the acoustics. Who knew making furniture required so much infrastructure?
Despite the millions of dollars that went into building the top-of-the-line facility, Steelcase had to move out in 2010, leaving the future of the odd building uncertain. Attempts were made to turn the pyramid into an awesome charter school, but they fell through. Now the pyramid sits hauntingly empty as the building’s new owners try to find a tenant that needs a sprawling futuristic pyramid with a secret manufacturing bunker underneath.
As of November 2015, plans were underway to re-purpose the building as the site of the largest data center east of the Mississippi. Switch.com, owner of the world’s biggest data center in Nevada announced plans to add a cluster of its “SuperNAP” data centers to the site pending the passage of three data center-friendly bills through Michigan’s GOP-led legislature.
Update as of 2016: Switch has bought and occupied the pyramid.
Update as of 2021: The pyramid now resides on private property and is best viewed from a distance.
Know Before You Go
6100 E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512