One of Grand Rapids largest employers has opened its first North American innovation center.

Global automotive and aerospace innovator & manufacturer, Hutchinson, opened its first North American Innovation Center at a private grand opening event yesterday, January 20 here in Grand Rapids. The center, which occupies 13,400 SF of a renovated third floor of its 30-acre campus at 460 Fuller Avenue in Grand Rapids, is dedicated to research, development and innovative thinking for all of Hutchinson’s divisions.

This is only the second innovation center that Hutchinson operates, with the other being the 507 Fab House, located in Montargis, France, near Hutchinson’s Paris world headquarters. That facility was constructed by the legendary Gustave Eiffel. The company chose Grand Rapids due to its central location to major clients and vendors and its 30-year history with the location (Grand Rapids was Hutchinson’s first location in the United States).

Russell Climie / Tiberius Images

The facility includes a mix of meeting rooms, videoconferencing technology, product and robotic displays and banquet facilities.

Although the Grand Rapids facility focuses on developing, engineering and manufacturing NVH (Noise/Vibration/Harshness) systems for the automotive industry, the 616 Fab House is intended to be used by all five of Hutchinson’s global divisions.

The interactive product display area shows all products made by Hutchinson’s North American operations in their environmental use. For instance, there are replicas of an airplane fuselage, a full-size automobile and military tank treads with actual Hutchinson parts inserted.

The advanced telepresence capabilities at the 616 Fab House provide a unique, immersive experience. One room has a 3-screen video monitor that, when in use, gives participants the sensation that the person on the screen is sitting directly across from them.

The space, which formerly served as a storage area, was constructed in just under eight months with Pinnacle Construction serving as general contractor and R.O.I. Design handling architectural and design services.

Hutchinson’s Grand Rapids campus consists of 30 acres of land and 260,000 SF of space spread over six inter-connected buildings. Approximately 300 people work at the facility.