Kendall College of Art and Design

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Kendall College of Art and Design
Type Art school
Established 1928 (1928)
Students 1,459
Location Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) is a NASAD-certified college of art and design located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States. As a part of Ferris State University, KCAD is also certified by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.


There were 1,459 students enrolled at KCAD for the Fall 2013 semester.[1]

Undergraduate programs[edit]

  • Art Education (BFA)
  • Art History: Studio (BS)
  • Art History: Academic (BS)
  • Collaborative Design: (BFA)
  • Digital Media (BFA)
  • Drawing (BFA)
  • Fashion Studies (BFA)
  • Furniture Design (BFA)
  • Graphic Design (BFA)
  • Illustration (BFA)
  • Industrial Design (BFA)
  • Interior Design (BFA)
  • Medical Illustration (BFA)
  • Metals/Jewelry Design (BFA)
  • Painting (BFA)
  • Photography (BFA)
  • Printmaking (BFA)
  • Sculpture/Functional Art (BFA)

Graduate programs[edit]

  • Architecture (MArch)
  • Art Education (MA)
  • Certificate in Design and Innovation Management (MBA)
  • Drawing (MFA)
  • Painting (MFA)
  • Photography (MFA)
  • Printmaking (MFA)
  • Visual and Critical Studies (MA)

Continuing education[edit]

  • Adult/Youth Classes – For beginners and experienced artists alike. Classes include drawing, painting, clay, fashion illustration, computer design, computer art, photography, jewelry, interior design, fibers and sculpture, among others.
  • Professional Development Classes – Credit and non-credit classes for professionals looking to update their skills. Classes are designed with input from college faculty and taught by professionals working in the field. Classes for art educators, interior designers, furniture designers, and jewelers are offered in a variety of formats, with other opportunities being developed.


Early years[edit]

KCAD was incorporated in 1928 by a provision in the will of Helen M. Kendall, the second wife of Grand Rapids furniture designer David Wolcott Kendall. The David Wolcott Kendall School of Art was housed in the old Kendall homestead at 145 Fountain Street, now known as Heritage Hill. The school offered a two-year program in the fundamentals of art and by the mid-1930s was making a name nationwide as the heir to the legacy of the craftsmen who built the Grand Rapids furniture industry.[2]


The postwar boom brought a wave of new students, including returning veterans. New wings were built on two sides of the Fountain Street building, and a new library housing Kendall’s personal collection was opened to the public in 1945. In 1947 the school’s name was changed to Kendall School of Design, reflecting the school’s national reputation in furniture design and home merchandising. In 1961, having outgrown the Fountain Street location, the school purchased a home and land at 1110 College Avenue NE. Through the ‘60s and ‘70s Kendall expanded its programs and campus, adding two new buildings at the College Avenue location. A foundation program for all students was established, and in 1977 an academic program led to the first Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1981, Kendall College of Design was certified as a baccalaureate degree-granting institution and was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities.

Back to downtown[edit]

Due to increasing enrollment, a committee of trustees, faculty, staff, and students began examining sites where the burgeoning school could relocate. The search ended just a block from the school’s original location in the old Kendall homestead. Built just after the turn of the century as exhibition space, the Manufacturers Building offered room for expansion. Kendall bought the building in ‘81 and moved its operations back downtown in the fall of ‘84. In 1987 the name of the school was changed to Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) to reflect the school’s status in granting four-year degrees and the equal importance of both art and design in the college's curriculum.

Merger with Ferris State University[edit]

In 1995 it was becoming apparent that to maintain the momentum of the college’s reputation for art and design education, and to provide the technology and services necessary in higher education, further growth was needed. At the same time, Ferris State University was exploring ways to expand from its geographic area, centered for most of the last century in Big Rapids, Michigan. In 1996, the schools embarked upon a four-year process of affiliation that culminated in a complete merger in the 2000–2001 academic year.

Continued growth[edit]

Under President Oliver Evans, the school purchased the old Interstate Building, a turn-of-the-century loft building on the same block, and connected it to the Manufacturers Building with a three-story atrium. The new facility opened in May 1998, is located at 17 Fountain Street NW, and houses the majority of KCAD's administrative offices, classrooms, and dedicated work spaces. In the early 2000s KCAD acquired and began renovating the Historic Federal Building at the corner of Pearl St. and Division Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids. The building opened in the Fall of 2012 and awarded Gold LEED certified.[3] The Federal Building, now known as the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, houses 3,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space, classroom, administrative, and public lecture spaces. It also hosts the Material ConneXion Library, the largest physical academic collection of material samples from the Material ConneXion organization in existence.[4] Also in the early 2000s KCAD received a grant from the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation to establish a dynamic, transdisciplinary learning center that explores the potential of linking design, innovation, and technology.[5] The Dow Center, better known as the FlexLab, is an open-source area where students can learn how to use contemporary digital processes such as 3D printing, LASER etching and cutting, vinyl cutting, large format inkjet printing, CNC machining, and plasma cutting.


Main Building[edit]


Kendall Building atrium stairs
  • Atrium – A three story high windowed space inside the 17F building main entrance that contains a large student commons area.
  • Darkrooms – Students have access to fully equipped black & white, color, and printmaking darkrooms.
  • Dow Center Flex Lab – This innovative lab facilitates processes such as 3D printing, 3D printing, LASER etching and cutting, vinyl cutting, large format inkjet printing & CNC machining and plasma cutting. We have Objet30, Dimension 1200, and Projet 460pro 3D printers that can print fine, strong, and full color objects in resin, thermoplastic, and powder up to 10x10x12". Can scan objects as large as a human body in minutes with the Artec Eva white light scanner, and small objects with the NextEngine LASER scanner. There are two Epson 9890 44" wide inkjet printers, and two medium scale LASER etching/cutting units that can handle organic materials up to 18x24." The Shopbot CNC can cut wood and similar materials up to 4x8,' and our vinyl cutter can handle rolls of vinyl up to 24" in width.
  • Library – The Kendall Library collections are steadily growing, providing a diverse body of materials for students pursuing degrees in art education, art history, fine art and design. While the collection’s strength is in art & design materials, major liberal arts subjects are also represented. Three professional academic librarians provide on-site reference services, including research and library instruction.
  • Sound Recording and Production Suite – The high-end sound and special effects room provides excellent sound quality for creating and capturing audio within the booth and greatly limits noise pollution to other areas.
  • Student Galleries – Public spaces at Kendall are always decked out with student art—the hallways, atrium, common areas, just about every wall or open floor space.

Woodbridge N. Ferris Building[edit]

The historic five-story Beaux Arts building, now part of the Kendall campus, was constructed in 1909. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and served as a federal building until 1981. At that time, the City of Grand Rapids renovated the first three floors of the building for the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Following the move of the museum in 2007, the building sat vacant until Ferris chose to redevelop the building to provide additional space for Kendall. The formation of a public/private partnership assisted Ferris in its plan to redevelop and adaptively reuse all five of the floors in accordance with federal and state preservation standards. The fully restored and renovated building provides a cultural/arts center for Kendall. The building has garnered multiple industry awards, including the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network award, as well as LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.


  • Auditorium – Large hall with two-story ceilings. For lectures and presentations.
  • FED Galleries – The galleries occupy over 3,500 sq. ft. of the building’s first floor. Exhibition programming focuses on work by visiting artists from around the world, with occasional exhibitions by Kendall faculty and MFA thesis exhibitions. At the close of each school year, the gallery hosts the annual Excellence Awards Exhibition, which features the work of the Excellence Award winner from each of the studio programs.
  • Material ConneXion Material Library – The largest academic collection of samples from Material ConneXion. The onsite research center features more than 1050 samples from an archive of more than 7,000 natural and synthetic materials. Students have unique access to a database to research and evaluate material solutions.
  • Wege Center for Sustainable Design – Skylight-lit common area for meeting or studying. Exhibit space for Collaborative Design program.

External links[edit]