Mike Chino

Grand Rapids Art Museum: First LEED Gold Certified Museum

by , 03/31/08

LEED, Grand Rapids Art Museum, gold-certified, USGBC, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Kulapa Yantrasast, wHY architecture, GRAM2

One of the oldest museums in the Mid-West was recently relocated to an elegant new LEED Gold certified structure, garnering accolades from art aficionados and sustainability advocates alike. Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture designed the new Grand Rapids Art Museum to be as beautiful as the artworks within, placing a premium on public space and ultra-efficient modern design. Situated downtown amid Maya Lin’s “Ecliptic” park and Alexander Calder’s “Grand Vitesse”, the museum is an impressive addition to the renowned architecture of the “sculpture city”.


LEED, Grand Rapids Art Museum, gold-certified, USGBC, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Kulapa Yantrasast, wHY architecture, GRAM5

LEED certified museums tend to be a tall order in terms of economics and design, which is one reason why there are so few of them. This is because the modern museum is more cultural complex than singular structure: it fulfills a range of functions through galleries, auditoriums, conference rooms, cafes, and stores. All of these rooms have different energy dynamics which are complicated by the exacting temporal science of archiving and displaying art. Regarding the project, Yantrasast states:

“a museum, especially an art museum, is a very unforgiving type of building because the air inside the building has to be very consistent. It is mostly 75 degrees and 50% humidity. [that range] can sway about five percent, but if it swings more than that the artwork will suffer. Conventional museums expend a lot of energy maintaining that condition.”

Remarkably, Yantrasast was able to triple the museum’s size to 125,000 square feet while maintaining a stellar environmental footprint. In order to do this, the structure takes advantage of a wealth of cutting-edge sustainable technologies. Climate is controlled by excellent insulation and building materials (20% of which are recycled) and a high-efficiency HVAC that features an “energy recovery wheel” system (as warm air is cycled outside, heat and humidity are transferred to incoming air, regulating temperature). The structure is also designed to receive 70% of its light from natural sources, and water-efficient fixtures compliment an on-site rain and grey water reuse system that reduces water consumption by 20%. This adds up to a structure that is clean, conscionable, and suffused with light – a perfect environment for artistic appreciation.

+ GRAM
+ wHY Architecture

Via greenlineblog.com

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7 Comments

  1. Inhabitat » Leona... April 7, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    [...] not always our style to point out celebrity lives but when they involve a super green, LEED Gold rated building with stellar views across the Hudson River it gets our attention. The New York scoop is that the [...]

  2. Grand Rapids Art Museum... April 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    [...] From inhabitat: [...]

  3. zbomb33 April 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I live in Grand Rapids and had the pleasure of watching this structure go up. I went to the opening, and I can say it is one of the most beautiful and eco friendly buildings I’ve been in yet!

  4. holz April 1, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    yes, it\’s looks really good…

    but LEED is still a crappy system.

    i\’m guessing that beyeler, klee museum and KH bregenz http://www.energyagency.at/publ/pdf/keepcool_bpp_austria4.pdf

    are all more efficient.

  5. hugo hugo April 1, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Wow. How a great design. I like the looks, the greenlyness and the high-end sustainable technology. I like the over-the-top pompous entrance and the almost exaggerated use of concrete.

  6. organicgrid April 1, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Simply put, a beautiful design, period.

  7. LivingSpaceBuilders.com LivingSpaceBuilders.com March 31, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    I’m glad that Michigan is slowly converting to green architecture and design. It’s a shame that our wonderful state has seen nothing but steady declines since the crash of manufacturing and automotive industry.

    Our company was founded on principles to make green living accessible to all, and I’m glad that we are joined by others in the architectural and building field with a vision towards a better greener future that hopefully will send a positive ripple effect and motivate others to join us.

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