REO Town architecture studio thrives

Studio [intrigue] Architects opened its doors in REO Town in 2006 and has been growing ever since.
Ken Jones and Dave VanderKlok opened the business in 2003 in Okemos. The two men met while studying architecture at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.
According to VanderKlok, the two had not always been friends and partners.
“Ken lived across the hall from me in student housing,” he said. “We did not like each other. I think we were too different. We started playing practical jokes on one another: paint in the shower piping, emptying all the spices into the bed sheets, toothpaste under the door handles, changing soup can labels. One day, we called a truce and all the bullshit stopped. From then on, as we went through school, I think we both realized that each of us had ‘it’ and our interests complimented one another.”
Two years after college, Jones called VanderKlok and proposed partnering in a new venture in Lansing. VanderKlok said he was “sick of working in Metro Detroit.”
According to the studio’s website, Jones and VanderKlok started their first office without any clients, project proposals or employees. The two men made calls, networked and got their name out in the community. By the end of 2004, Studio [intrigue] Architects had acquired 75 clients, 300 projects and seven employees.
Some of their previous projects include Dublin Square and Los Tres Amigos in East Lansing, Marketplace in Lansing and Lansing City Market, along with many other restaurants, offices, and private residences in and around Lansing.
“Michigan was in a horrible economy as far back as second quarter 2001. Opportunities were shrinking and Ken and I were concerned about job security,” VanderKlok said.
The two did not want to leave the security they did have but VanderKlok said they wanted their fate in their own hands.
“We met at Buddies in Okemos for nachos and beer for several weeks and discussed what we needed to do. Republic Bank, not excited about the fact that Ken and I were flat broke and had zero assets, took a chance on us and loaned us $120,000,” VanderKlok said.
The two closed on the loan and opened on March 3, 2003.
VanderKlok said the hardest part of growing their business was finding the right employees and training them. The studio has grown from a team of two to a team of 13 architects and designers that work on approximately 200 projects per year.
“I have a team of 13 of the most capable architects and interior designers in Michigan. Although Ken and I lead the design work that we do, all of the team members have some level of involvement in the design of our projects,” VanderKlok said.
VanderKlok said he has had no regrets about moving the business to REO Town.
“I am hoping that, with investment and entrepreneurship ramping up, that the time has come for our area of town to take off,” VanderKlok said. “We have Alan Hooper and Sam Short in our neighborhood now. Obviously, the Board of Water and Light has helped. We also have a lot of plans on the boards for other projects in our area. It’s our time,” VanderKlok said.
VanderKlok said one downside of being in REO Town is that there is not enough retail and dining options close by, but he appreciates that basically everything in Lansing is within 20 minutes.
VanderKlok said two projects the firm are most proud of were their work on the Lansing Board of Water and Light co-generation plant and the Residences/HopCat Tower because they were both “large, complex projects.”
VanderKlok said while they are a general design firm, the type of project and the client must fit their style.
“Project type has a lot to do with it. Although we are a ‘generalist’ practice, we still want to make sure that the project is a fit for us, VanderKlok said. “Making sure that the client is a fit is important as well.”


Mid-Michigan Women’s Expo generates business for Lansing


Bake N’ Cakes employee handing out samples inside the expo.









By Micah Davis 
Listen Up, Lansing

Michigan businesses geared up for the 15th annual Mid-Michigan Women’s Expo and according to some local Lansing businesses, it proved to be a big success.
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Michigan State Police Moving Headquarters to Make Way for Other State Agencies


By Ray Wilbur
Listen Up, Lansing

The Michigan State Police are moving from their newly built headquarters in downtown Lansing to the Secondary Complex near Dimondale, leaving office space open for the Department of Community Health and other state agencies to move into—saving millions of dollars for the state of Michigan.

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Marathon cancellation has runners looking elsewhere

By Jazzy Teen
Listen Up, Lansing 

LANSING-For the past three years, a good indication of spring arrival in Lansing would be the city’s very own annual marathon that stretched through the many streets of downtown Lansing. This spring, however, runners will not be making that 26.2-mile journey and may have to opt for shorter runs locally. Continue reading


Despite Setbacks, Michigan Tourism Remains Pure

By Ian Wendrow
Listen Up, Lansing

The Detroit Institute of Arts has seen a marked increase in visitors in the past few months.

The Detroit Institute of Arts has seen a marked increase in visitors in the past few months.

LANSING-As news of Wayne County’s financial trouble spreads across Michigan and Detroit continues to pick up the pieces from its historic bankruptcy case, one would be fair in believing that the spirit of travel had fallen in recent years.

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Michigan state capitol unveiled

The exterior of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

The exterior of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

By Abigail Heath
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING-The capitol building that stands in Lansing, Mich. is the third capitol the state has had. The first building was located in Detroit, and the second just two blocks from where the current operating capitol is.

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Is it time to liven up Lansing?

By Kristen Alberti
Listen Up, Lansing

Many streets are not bustling during the day in Lansing because the people there are working and students are busy with school and work themselves.

Many streets are not bustling during the day in Lansing because the people there are working and students are busy with school and work themselves.

LANSING-There’s no denying that East Lansing’s downtown scene can keep students occupied, but doing the same thing night after night can turn dull. However, an increase in boredom has still not increased the amount of students giving Downtown Lansing a try.
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More Than Just Our Labels |

The pros and cons of being defined by your sexual preferences in a community

By Asha Johnson

(EAST LANSING) – Ann Arbor and East Lansing Michigan are two cities known to be rivalries of each other in just about everything, but there is one acronym that they both have in common that joins their communities together; LGBT.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is often looked at as being unaccepted or are shunned away from others, but because East Lansing has been voted one of the most gay friendly cities in America, MSU is the campus to be on to openly express yourself and/or sexual preferences.

“Being from Ann Arbor I normally would see more gay people than straight people so it was easy to be myself,” said former MSU student Robert Stevens, 19. “I was slightly pre cautious coming to East Lansing because I was taught to be that way since I am a black man and a gay black man as well, but the community welcomed me in instantly,” he said.

Being pre cautious and aware of your surroundings when coming to unfamiliar areas is a normal thing to do and one would say they would be scared to be themselves, but being himself is what got Stevens where he is today.

“Not to sound cocky but I like to look at myself to get along with almost everyone,” Stevens said, “I generally fit in and like to make friends who accept me for who I am, because although I am not boastful about my sexuality, I don’t hide it either.”

Having friends who understand you more than you understand yourself are what most individuals need in life to be able to release stress and whatever else may bother them. Stevens has that special someone whom he confides in about everything and she’s literally closer to him than you may think.


18-year-old Amy Chatell is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a freshman at Michigan State University. Chatell and Stevens have become so close because they have so much in common that they were drawn to become roommates.

“People can usual tell that Robby is gay before he even opens up his mouth and what drew me to become so close with him is how he isn’t ashamed of who he is,” Chatell said, “he even walks around the dorm in his heels.”

Although Stevens isn’t ashamed about whom he is and struts around in his fabulous pumps, years ago he wasn’t as confident as he is now.

“This may sound a little backwards but I actually came out to my classmates in school before I came out to my folks back at home,” Stevens said, “for some reason I felt more comfortable with my school community than with my family.

Stevens had a rough childhood when he came out, but his “Ann Arbor Mentality” is the very thing that allowed him to reopen himself and not care about his appearance.

“I was a little bias about openly displaying who I really was to my community because of the different feelings people would have towards me, but now I don’t care and it doesn’t affect me,” Stevens said.

Because Stevens is so openly gay and stands strong about his sexual preferences, he had a lot to say about marriage laws not being passed for homosexuals.

“I often refer to myself as a “hopeless romantic” so I still have hopes and dreams that one day I’ll grow old and raise kids with my husband, but I also don’t really see the need to have laws validated by the state,” Stevens said, “I don’t need a state law to validate whether or not someone may be my husband because if the love is there, he in fact will be my husband in my heart.

Stevens does think about marriage laws and what benefits it may hold for him and the protection of his future children, but he understands there are other ways to be married.

“I am aware that other states have already passed this law but because I am already accepted in my community, I wouldn’t want to start all over unless I was already planning to move or unless my kids needed to be left in my will if I was dying,” he said.

Stevens has worked hard to stay connected to his community by working with gay activist groups so that he can help straight people to be aware of who they are and not be judgmental when becoming acquainted with the LGBT community.

“Often times straight people may say something about gays and not be aware of their words choice and how offensive it is, but the gay activist groups that I attend educate them on how to not use offensive wording and improper/uncomfortable labeling,” said Stevens.

“Being unaccepted isn’t an option and I am more than just my labels”



















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REACH Studio Art Center brings a positive outlet to Lansing youth

By Chelsea Elledge

REO Town reporter- Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING- REACH Studio Art Center, located in REO TOWN, is a non-profit community art center with programs for adults and children as young as two.

Program Director, Joy Baldwin, said, “We try to make REACH a safe, positive place for kids to go.”

REACH is also a place where kids can heal Colby Castillo, a 13-year-old sci-fi makeup artist, “When I got into a car accident and broke my back all I had was art.”

“I can be open with anyone here, and they don’t care!” said Castillo

According to Baldwin, the teen program at REACH allows students to make art on a competitive, professional level.

“The things we learn here are more like learning to present to clients and working together,” said 15-year-old REACH student Tamara Hunt.

REACH students: Willow Baldwin (left) and Tamara Hint (right)

REACH students: Willow Baldwin (left) and Tamara Hunt (right)

“They’re presenting their ideas to officials. For example, all of the BWL commissioners had to vote on their artistic skills and their drawing,” said Baldwin. “So there’s like this competitive factor and they’re really getting a taste of what it’s like to create public art.”

Challenges in the community

In 2013, REACH received a $75,000 grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation.

The grant allowed them to buy the block where their studio resides. The funding also allowed them to create a safe courtyard for children to play in during summer programs, according to Baldwin.

“We were having to turn people away,” said Baldwin. “All of our classes were full. We only had the one the classroom. So it was a good problem to have, but we need more space, we need to be able to offer more.”

They are still looking to raise more money for the expansion, however.

“Money is always the biggest problem,” Baldwin said. “It’s really hard to find funding that will cover bricks and mortar and buildings, people would much rather give money to serve children,” she said.

In the fall of 2014, REACH was able to raise $48,000 through the Crowd Funding Campaign, which was doubled by the Patronicity Campaign in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, generating a total of $96,000.

According to Baldwin marketing and community awareness are also challenges that REACH faces.  “Making sure that people know what we are, and why we are here, and that we are here for them.”

REACH offers affordable services

REACH has designed unique programs that will fit the needs of people who cannot commit to attending classes beforehand.

Baldwin stated that in previous years, classes were only available by pre-registering, however, beginning Feb. 18, REACH will launch “Walk-in Wednesdays”.

These donation-funded workshops designed to, “suit the needs of that population that just wants to be able to show up when they can make it,” said Baldwin.” If they can afford to donate $5, that’s great. If not, that’s fine too.”

Baldwin said, “Our mission is to make art accessible to everyone, so we don’t want money to be a barrier for those that might need to access the arts.”

In an effort to appeal to a broader range of people, all youth programs are now on a sliding scale, based on income and household size for participants who use Bridge Cards.

In addition to workshops, REACH also offers custom art events and workshops.

According to Baldwin, REACH participates in several events in the Lansing area. “We do free events all over the place, like the East Lansing art fair and the MSU Science Fair, the Jazz Fest, a variety of events in the city”

“We have an art truck and every summer we go to five different sites; four Lansing Parks and Recreation, and one Boys and Girls Club site, and it’s free to them,” said Baldwin. “We write grants to fund our staff to do this so that we can bring art to kids in the city who are not getting it through reach.”

The REACH art truck,

The REACH art truck

Getting involved with REACH

The REACH website features a calendar of all their classes and events, as well as online registration.

Morgan Scallen, who started with REACH in November of 2014 as an AmeriCorps Vista, said she was looking for opportunities to serve in the community, when she came across REACH.

“It’s really exciting seeing the kids get excited about learning new things,” she said.

Sarah Garcia, a junior at Michigan State University, began as a volunteer and is now an intern at REACH.

“I love this place! It’s such a great place to foster creativity!” said Garcia.