One of the oldest museums in the Midwest and the world’s first LEED certified art museum, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) stands adjacent the land sculpture “Ecliptic” by Maya Lin, located in Rosa Parks Circle. The design completes the renewal of a 3.5 acre block in downtown by transforming a surface parking lot into a building that embodies a belief that art is connected to nature and everyday life is connected to art.
wHY’s organization for the museum’s galleries and program breaks traditional museum design by decentralizing and democratizing the experience, empowering each amenity — cafe, store, classrooms, library, auditorium — to provide ‘activity tentacles’ that attract and interact with people to bring them into the galleries and other focused spaces within the museum. A dynamic connection between indoor-outdoor across the site magnifies this quality of the 21st century museum as art and activities encourage year-round civic involvement.
Both poetically and practically, lighting strategies at GRAM breathe life into the galleries and create a dynamic connection between visitors and art. More than 75% of the occupiable interior spaces receive natural light with multiple methods of control. The iconic third floor ‘lantern’ galleries create the sense of connection to the sky while preserving the ability to display light sensitive materials such as works on paper.