GRAND RAPIDS, MI.- The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced today that it its new $60 million building, designed by Architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY, will open to the public on October 5, 2007. The new GRAM will be the first and only art museum in the world whose entire facility is LEED certified, and will provide the northern Great Lakes region with a superb new museum facility for the exhibition of works of art.
Achieving the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a particular challenge for art museums given the exacting climate standards for art preservation and volume of visitorship that they receive. The Museum will incorporate energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems and recycling systems for water and paper supplies. Natural light will be utilized throughout the public and private spaces of the building. The central urban location of the museum will allow for easy access by public transportation and bicycle. As part of the LEED certification, GRAM will also build awareness of environmentally friendly efficiencies through education programs and activities.
“The new GRAM building will be a vibrant addition to green design worldwide, and to the growing cultural life of the northern Great Lakes region,” said Celeste Adams, Museum Director. “Its opening will represent a new chapter in the life of the Museum.”
Sited in the heart of the growing West Michigan community, the new $60 million building will be located adjacent to architect Maya Lin’s Ecliptic (designed in 2000), an urban park in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The new building comprises 125,000 square feet and will provide more than three times the gallery space of its former building for its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, as well as increase space for education and public programs. The Museum has raised $73 million of its $75 million capital campaign goal, which includes the new museum facility, site acquisition, and endowment. Construction of the new museum began in September 2004.
The 125,000 square-foot concrete and glass building will capitalize on the city’s dramatic vistas and natural surroundings. The building is organized around a central pavilion of glass and light-colored concrete flanked by a reflecting pool and open-air courtyard, which will serve as a gathering place for museum members and visitors. As visitors move from the pavilion towards the gallery wing, natural light will give the space a sense of upward procession towards the special exhibition and permanent collection galleries, which total nearly 18,000 square feet. The three-floor gallery wing will feature glass skylight lanterns which admit natural light into the space, and which will illuminate the building at night. In addition to its galleries, the building design includes a multi-use, flexible seating auditorium, education center, art reference library, café, museum shop, and conference and study rooms.
Outside, a large portico with an expansive roof canopy cantilevered toward the park will extend the building’s connection to Ecliptic, providing shaded comfort in warm weather and a protected area from which to view ice skaters on the Ecliptic rink in the winter. Among other public amenities is a warming shelter for the skating rink within Maya Lin’s Ecliptic. The building also includes lower-level underground loading dock, central security, and staff parking.
GRAM has raised over $73 million towards the $75 million capital campaign goal. In 2001 the museum announced a $20 million lead gift from the Wege Foundation. Peter M. Wege, an advocate for the environment and long-time cultural philanthropist, led the 1968 fundraising campaign to acquire Alexander Calder’s great public sculpture La Grande Vitesse, installed two blocks from the new Art Museum. Twelve additional donors participated at the Founder level of giving ($1 million and above), establishing a collaboration of private philanthropy unprecedented in Grand Rapids for a single cultural project. Richard DeVos and Lena Meijer joined Peter Wege as honorary co-chairs and major donors to the campaign. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Fred and Lena Meijer, and Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation accounted for $20 million in gifts in the first year of the campaign.