Since 1995 the Frederik Meijer Gardens has been a destination for the Grand Rapids community with its lush landscape, educational programs and renowned collection of outdoor sculpture. Through the years, Meijer Gardens has undergone several expansions, which in addition to doubling in size from 70 acres to 158 acres, has led to a diffusion of spaces across the grounds.
The project’s primary task was to create a new entry to the Gardens with a Welcome Center and space that could adapt and sustain the institution over time. We were challenged to not simply add new elements, but to bring order to what was already there, to provide a unified whole, as well as a strong quiet backdrop for the art and horticulture. We gathered the various programmatic and spatial elements, some existing and some newly identified, knitting together several structures to create one cohesive campus, improving circulation, access, programming flexibility and overall visitor experience.
The project as a whole relies on a restrained vocabulary of simple concrete and stone walls, as well as large canopies and overhangs, to delineate spaces, direct and create views, and define gardens to make nature and the artwork the primary focus. At times, a wall can just be a wall, but it can also grow into a pavilion, a bench, or it can create a simple building.
The Garden Pavilion, a new gathering space inside the Welcome Center, enfolds visitors within a monumental installation by Jaume Plensa, with whom we worked closely to design conditions for an experience of art and architecture as one.
15 acres site
158 acres total campus