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Tuesday, 06 March 2012 09:00

Frederik Meijer Gardens plans $22M expansion

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Frederik Meijer Gardens plans $22M expansion Courtesy image
GRAND RAPIDS — One of West Michigan’s notable cultural landmarks plans to expand and further cement its “must-see” destination appeal.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park CEO David Hooker on Feb. 15 announced plans for a $22 million Japanese garden to be completed by 2015. Hooker also took the opportunity to honor the late business leader and philanthropist Fred Meijer during the event held at the gardens.

The occasion was marked with Fred’s wife, Lena Meijer, who was on hand for the reveal, along with dignitaries from Grand Rapids’ sister city of Omihachiman, Japan. Kuninori Matsuda, Japan’s consul general based in Detroit, attended the event and delivered a speech recognizing the contributions of both the Meijer and Amway corporations to the community and to Japan’s earthquake recovery.

“This garden will be a must-see place for many Japanese and their children,” he said.

The 8.5-acre international garden, which has been a part of the sculpture park’s master plan for the last 16 years, was the last wish of Fred Meijer, said Hooker, who discussed the project with Meijer the week he died.

Construction will begin no later than spring of 2013. Excavation may start this year. Architecture firm Progressive AE and general contractor Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. will support the construction process.

“This is going to be a very unique project for us,” said Bill Ogden, project general superintendent for Owens Ames Kimball. “Our first phone conference with the architect is scheduled for later this week. After that, we’ll likely start getting into budgeting.”

Ogden said it’s still very early in the planning process and that construction of the Japanese style garden will take some familiarization. However, the first step will be the massive excavation process, which consists of digging an expansive pond and the placement of an untold number of boulders.

“This is a large earth-work package,” he said. “We’ll look to start moving the dirt in the dry months — when that might be is still up in the air.”

Hoichi Kurisu, president and founder of Kurisu International, was selected to design the garden. With more than 40 years of experience designing Japanese Gardens, Kurisu will live in Grand Rapids for two years advising and overseeing the construction process.

In addition to the highly stylized landscaping, “Untitled,” a sculpture by Indian artist Anish Kapoor, will be placed on the grounds.

A traditional Japanese teahouse will fit within the center of the grounds and will likely be available for use by appointment only.

“This garden will be a union of horticulture and sculpture,” said Joseph Becherer, chief curator and VP of collections and exhibitions. “It is a new and significant chapter in where we’re going with the gardens.”

The new park feature will be called The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in recognition of their contribution to the project.

Read 2188 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 11:50

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