The new Kruizenga Art Museum (KAM) at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, has been described as a "breath of fresh air". The uniqueness of the 15,000 gsf Museum building is largely due to its unorthodox, saw-toothed granite exterior.
The two-story façade sheathed in flame-cut charcoal gray slate panels creates a curved perimeter by overlapping to form a pleat pattern, reminiscent of an artist’s palette in shape. The façade is comprised of 26 flat panels arrayed in a serrated pleat around the curved perimeter with a floor to ceiling windows fronting the art plaza. Each panel is 22' tall and composed of nine 1 7/8" thick Black Cambrian granite slabs. The form of each panel is reflected in the interior galleries by a whitewashed display wall, parallel to the external panel and resulting in a facetted curve, guiding visitors through the space.
Between the angled overlap of each panel is a stainless steel strip highlighting the separation and expressing the building's verticality. LED fittings located at the bottom of each strip graze the back panels with light, leaving the front edge of each panel in silhouette. Though the light gradually softens toward the top of the building, it highlights the small cornice, celebrating the height of the structure and the stone's natural beauty.
The Modernist structure creates a dialog with the existing campus by acting as a pavilion structure in the campus’ center, while providing a counterpoint to the surrounding backdrop of red brick collegiate architecture.
Gentle and sloping landscaping allows the museum to nestle within its surroundings and integrates an external sculptural ramp and plaza steps – the Museum’s primary approach route. Previously an asphalt parking lot, the Museum site now faces a newly created, generous art plaza to the southwest of the site and is adjacent to the art, music and dance facilities.
The Museum’s interior has a “double-lung”, leaf floor plan for a variety of public and private spaces on two levels. The upper level contains the two public galleries and the reception, all surrounding a central core comprised of the educational spaces: the director's office, meeting room, art storage and receiving rooms. The lower level contains preparation space, storage, and mechanical rooms.
In addition to serving as a resource for the entire campus and surrounding area, the transformational model allows for open display of College’s collected works and provide opportunities for students to be involved directly. As a “teaching museum” the facility acts as a classroom for hands-on learning across several disciplines and allows students to participate in exhibition development, docent training, collection management and research.
With the new Museum opening, the public will be able to view never before displayed artwork including more than 1,000 pieces of artwork complementing the American-Dutch ancestry of the region, including works by Hendrik Mesdag. Additionally, with the major donation of 500 pieces of Asian artwork and more than 7,000 art-related books publications and catalogs, the College has expanded their collections by 30 percent.
"The completion of the new Museum positions Hope College to bring its collection to life for a new generation of students, faculty and visitors," said Matthew VanderBorgh, Director and Lead Architect of C Concept Design and Hope College alumni, Class of ‘84.
VanderBorgh likens the project method to a concept in the Netherlands called the “polder model,” referring to a greater level of cooperation by various societies living in the shared polders to work together in service of a greater purpose.
VanderBorgh provided design services pro-bono, alongside donated services by Donald Battjes (Class of ’68), former Chief of Operations at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for leadership guidance for advance programmatic planning.
KAM adheres to Hope College’s commitment to sustainability. The museum has easy access to public transportation and limited the amount of available parking places. Water management includes the use of native drought resistant plants and increased permeable surface areas in the surrounding landscaping. The museum is equipped with a building automation system (BAS) monitoring and controlling the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC). The mechanical and electrical rooms are capable of servicing larger galleries, which opens doors for future expansion. All lighting fixtures for the museum are highly efficient LEDs, including those between the overlapping granite exterior panels. In order to limit the exposure of displayed artwork to UV rays, the full height entrance window has a low-E coating. Furthering the KAM’s green credentials, only low VOC paint was used for interior spaces.
The total project cost is $7.8 million, including construction and an endowment for ongoing building maintenance. KAS is named in honor of a leadership gift from Dr. Richard and the late Margaret Kruizenga of Holland, each of whom graduated from Hope College, Class of ‘52.