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Grand Rapids Art Museum
wHY Architecture

October 22, 2007 /

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

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The new Grand Rapids Art Museum occupies one city block in the heart of Grand Rapids; a city well known for its legacy and influence on commerce, craft and modern design.

GRAM is the first art museum in the world to receive a LEED certified status.

Together with the sculpture "Ecliptic" by Maya Lin, located in the adjacent park, the site is an urban oasis surrounded by tall buildings.

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The design stresses both the symbolic need of a museum to be a civic icon within the city, and the humanistic needs for people to have their own experience with art. It is grand in its presence, and intimate in the experience.

The projecting canopies, like large canopies of trees extend up and reach out to frame the park and the city, similar to the Japanese concept of "borrowed scenery".

The sheltering canopy defines a place for multiple urban activities, as a gathering place for people.

The design for Grand Rapids Art Museum attempts to synergize the differences; the building is monumental in its civic symbol, yet intimate and warm in experience. It is earth friendly and art focus. It aims to make people feel most comfortable, yet trigger them to see and to think.

/Kulapat Yantrasast

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The front of the building is formed like fingers extending into the green of the park.
Museum lobby, restaurant, education center are projecting pavilions towards the park with pockets of nature between them that slow people down from the hectic pace of urban life.

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The presence of nature within allows visitors to reach a state of repose, adjust their eyes and conscience state for the art to come. Layers of screening - louvers, glass and shades soften the light and calm the mind.

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The inner sanctum is the 3-level gallery tower where top floor galleries are lit with lantern skylights serving as light sources to the galleries, as well as illuminating "beacons" in the urban night sky. The changing of time is sensed in the changing light in the galleries.

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Photo courtesy wHY Architecture

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Photo courtesy wHY Architecture

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Being one of the very first art museums in the US designed with the goal for LEED certification, the use of natural light in the building was carefully planned.

Most public areas have natural light, galleries receive light from top lantern skylights as well as large windows; connecting art to surrounding urban life.

The design emphasizes the important balance of both the exterior openness and the interior calmness. Visitors can enjoy the uplifting quality of light in the galleries as well as the outdoors under the canopy.

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Drawing courtesy wHY Architecture
First Floor Plan


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Drawing courtesy wHY Architecture
Third Floor Plan



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Drawing courtesy wHY Architecture
Section



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Drawing courtesy wHY Architecture
Section Diagram

Facts about Grand Rapids Art Museum

Total area:

125,000 ft2

Client's representation:
RISE Group

Architect:
wHY Architecture

Principals:

Kulapat Yantrasast & Yo Hakomori

Project Architect:

Aaron Loewenson

Project team:

Megan Lin
Jenny Wu (former staff)

Architect of Record:
Design Plus, Inc.

Project manager:

Dave Mester

Project architect:

Doug P. Smith

Structural Engineer:
Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners

Environmental Engineer:

Atelier Ten
(MEP) Design Plus, Inc.

Lighting Consultant:

Isometrix Lighting + Design

Civil Engineer:

Moore & Bruggink

Curtain Wall Consultant:

W. J. Higgins & Associates

Concrete Consultant:

Reginald Hough, FAIA

Landscape Design:

Design Plus

Initial Concept Design:

M+M, London

General Contractors:

Rockford / Pepper Construction

Project Manager:

Shane Napper

Concrete construction:

Grand River Construction

Fire Protection Firedyne Engineering, PC

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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