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Interlochen, Michigan

Corson Park and Lifeguard House Renovation

the Project stats


Construction Manager

Cornerstone Architects


the Project study

The Summer Camp experience would not be complete without swimming and enjoying the beach along a scenic Northern Michigan body of water like Green Lake. The Interlochen Center for the Arts decided to improve access to the beach by improving barrier-free access via ADA compliant pathways and improvements to two buildings that were at least 80 years old, the Minnesota and Lifeguard buildings. An elevator and a 1,500 square foot addition was added to allow proper barrier-free access in showers and bathrooms. The project enabled better access to campers, while also maintaining the historical integrity of the buildings.

This project included the complete interior renovation of the Lifeguard building, requiring removal of everything but the building’s three decorative exterior walls, as well as an addition that included a new elevator. The remodel was designed to maintain the traditional look of the building and included three fully accessible restrooms with a roof-top deck for entertainment space. ADA compliant ramps were built along a 23-foot grade difference between the beach level and a rise above the buildings to enable wheelchair access to the new elevator.

The immediate challenge posed to project team was the schedule. First notified about the project in Fall 2016, our team received a permit set of drawings in November 2016 to develop a project cost estimate. As plans evolved, it was recognized that the construction would need to start in January to be ready for a late Spring 2017 opening along with the camp season. To get the project moving, Spence Brothers was hired as construction manager to bid out the project for a January 2017 construction start.

A design challenge was enabling barrier-free and ADA compliant access from a rise above the Lifeguard and Minnesota buildings to the beach below, which featured a grade difference of approximately 23 feet. Due to the steep slopes, a gradual ramp system was designed to weave down to the Lifeguard building, where beach access would be enabled via a new elevator as part of the building addition. The design incorporated retaining walls and reshaping the grade to meet barrier-free requirements for slope.

Starting in January is not an optimal time to initiate an exterior renovation and site project, but Spence Brothers and our subcontractors are accustomed to meeting challenges in the climate of Northern Michigan. The project team was able to take advantage of some relatively mild January weather to start site and utility excavation and demolition early in the project. Demolition included removal of sidewalks, floors and footings and removal of all interiors and roof of the Lifeguard house. The three exterior stone finish walls that were part of the original building were maintained throughout the construction. In a departure from the harsh winters experienced in the past few years, 2017 provided some better weather for winter work, allowing foundations and walls to be completed through February.

In March, the new masonry walls are put up, floor plumbing and electrical connections installed, and the concrete floor poured in the areas to serve a restroom and changing areas. Once the new walls were built and the floor poured, the hollowcore precast concrete roof was placed, allowing interior framing to proceed throughout the month of April.

Stairs, ramps, and retaining walls were framed up and poured in early and mid-May, adding the all important accessibility improvements that necessitated the project. Brick pavers were installed at the foot of the building and bathroom finishes were installed as well as the elevator lift. Door and window hardware were installed in June, and site restoration occurred last.

The project won an award from the Builders Exchange of Northwestern Michigan for Historic Renovation.