The exhibit area is small relative to other museum buildings, what with 1,400 m² (15.000’²). But its expectation is all the greater: Holland, Michigan’s Kruizenga Art Museum aspires to set an unmistakable landmark on the Hope College campus and provide a first-class learning-venue of a special kind.
The architect faced a tough challenge in complying to specifications and expectations, even though the starting conditions were ideal. Margret Feldemann Kruizenga together with her husband and most important patron allowed for no mistake: „I don’t want a box, I want something unusual.”
The result, for which architect Matthew VanderBorgh, head of the Dutch C Concept Design and college alumni, signs responsible, can now be admired first hand: from a birds’-eye-view, the complex is reminiscent of an artist’s palate.
From the ground, the unusual façade is an eye-catcher. To achieve the desired curvature, stone panels were mounted tangentially like lamellae.
A play of light and shade can be admired under the roof where no-one usually looks: here convex and concave shapes project unusual shadows.
It is more than an architectural effect and can actually stand to represent the aims and goals of the entire museum: „The mission of the Kruizenga Art Museum (KAM) is to educate, engage, and inspire the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Hope College, as well as the broader communities of Holland and West Michigan” – with emphasis on „to inspire”.
To this end, of course, the building complex need not impress by its mere size. More importantly it must radiate trust and openness.
The entrance is wide open and designed like an over-dimensioned picture-window extending over the entire façade.
Closeness of a special kind is promised by the Study Room inside, where students and docents can retreat for closer perusal of objects in the museum’s collection.
In contrast, the slate-clad exterior, gives the impression of a closed community. This is necessary to ward off damage to the objects by ultra violet sun rays.
A number of measures were undertaken to loosen the stringent appearance: one could imagine that the panels are in the process of opening up.
The natural stone cladding (5.750‘² = 534 m²) comprises 26 segments each of which is made up of 9 slabs (7’-4” by 3’-0” wide, 1 7/8 thick, about 700 lbs. apiece). Cambrian Black granite was used originating from Québec’s St. Nazaire quarry in relative proximity. It was supplied by Dwyer Marble and Stone.
The mounting fixtures were supplied by Keil Company. The mounting work itself was carried out by JK Masonry (Grand Rapids, MI). Other companies involved are Progressive AE (Grand Rapids) and G.O. Construction, a joint venture team comprised of GDK Construction and Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.
Some 1,000 works of art make up the collection housed in the museum. Some are donated by alumni, others bought specifically for the museum. The emphasis was not on famous works but rather on pieces that could provide food for thought.
To quote avant-garde artist Francis Picabia, „the head is round in order to allow thoughts to change directions freely”.
Kruizenga Art Museum (KAM)
Fotos: Tom Wagner / C Concept Design
(02.10.2015, USA: 10.02.2015)