The Holland Civic Center functions at a variety of scales, which is necessary for its success at both a site and a city scale.  As part of the city, it is the center for “Civic Entropy.”  Being born from the intensity and interest of the present farmer’s market, the new civic center takes this energy and grows it throughout the city.  It does this by first spreading small urban agricultural gardens throughout Holland, Michigan and as green space in the surrounding parking surface. In this way, the culture of agriculture is grown as is the physical produce.  This is furthered through gardening classes and cooking classes occurring within and around the Civic Center.  Not only is it programmatically the center of the city, but it becomes the physical center of its district, creating a cross axis through its mass.  Maintaining a tight profile to the east and west, its façade provides a smooth transition from the street while maintaining the street’s intensity.  Particularly during the farmer’s markets, when the farmer’s stalls run along 8th street, does the Civic Center exhibit its congeniality towards this event.  The north south axis runs perpendicular to a “polder” landscape in the north – where the present day metal recycling plant is – to the elementary school on the south.  This serves as a collector of the southern neighborhoods of the site, balancing the Civic Center’s appeal to citizens outside of its local site, while also complementing the existing neighborhood character surrounding it.


The exterior of the Civic Center represents “incremental growth,” being comprised of brick, metal, and cor-ten panels  – the metal coming from the recycling plant to the north.  A series of metal tree structures provide for shading and overhangs, encouraging the Civic Center as a refuge for the market during inclement weather. Furthermore, these tree structures provide a new interpretation of the old American market house, whose projecting overhangs provided shelter for many of the market’s activities.  Not only functional elements, the tree structures become symbolic of the tree lined streets so characteristic of the city of Holland.  Like the real trees that shade 8th street, the symbolic trees shade the building in a dappled pattern, bringing to life the industrial materials into dynamically changing scenery, leaves upon the facade.

At a building scale, the Civic Center becomes an expression of “incremental growth” of Holland’s downtown.  The program of the interior is volumetrically pushing and pulling out from its central core, accommodating both programmatic differentiations while also defying any singular reading horizontally.  These volumes, however, stack atop each other, not only providing for a logical circulation core, but also providing for a vertical mass that in itself becomes a building, an urban indoors, directly relating to its street presence.  As one travels down the interior street, glimpses into the three halls become apparent – modern day gateways into indoor piazzas.  The interior street, through its programmatic juxtaposition – a digital market near a community kitchen near a gathering stair – and even programmatic indeterminacy, provides for continued interaction of the diverse entities of Holland, Michigan.  This continued interaction reinforces the collaborative spirit akin to Holland; thus the Civic Center serves to intensify and reinforce the positive relationships of the community.  As one travels through the gateways, one enters an indoor piazza, steps providing a slight depression of the floor, creating this informal “in-between” space meant for socialization and people watching opportunities.  The hall, in this way, becomes a place for gathering both during informal and formal events. The southern exposure, although it could be fully exposed, is only open to views a the ground floor, providing a heightened sense of enclosure, reinforcing the interior’s urban character, while also providing for a focus on the “sky,” a love of the Dutch.   The sky above the urban scaled volumes becomes of varied hues, being tempered in such a way to render the middle of the courts slightly brighter than their edges, a nearly imperceptible spot lighting.  The interior of the halls are of metal panels and cor-ten, being materials more typical of exterior conditions, while also allowing for a variegated patterning in large panels.

The three halls, through their linear arrangement, provide for a flexibility and programmatic indeterminacy needed for market activities.  First and foremost, the halls, with their linear layout, provide for the happening of a weekly market during winter seasons.  The linear circulation complements Holland’s citizens’ notion of markets as linear organizations.  To further the programmatic flexibility, two halls are designed with basketball as a benchmark while the third volume becomes a smaller theater hall. This hall, not seen as being able to compete with large more theater-geared venues, is smaller and more intimate, a second level seating wrapping its inside.
Through these characteristics the Civic Center exhibits Civic Entropy, moving the city of Holland towards a condition of continued improvement and growth.