The Grand Rapids Art Museum has the honor of being the world's first LEED Certified art museum. Achieving the LEED Gold level of certification means it's designed with state of the art energy efficiency and environmental awareness. Low water use, natural day-lighting, and optimized acoustics give the building longevity and sustainability.

Acoustics By Design provided acoustical engineering and audio-visual systems design for the galleries and the auditorium. We worked closely with Design Plus, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and wHY Architecture out of Los Angeles to seamlessly integrate the acoustical materials into the restrained minimalistic architecture.

The museum has a lot of concrete and reflective surfaces, so it was full of acoustical challenges. One of the solutions was a European product called BASWAphon, which looks like drywall, but is really a sound absorbing material.

Another challenge was the auditorium, which was designed to host everything from live music and film festivals to banquets and presentations. Our audio-visual designers developed a technical system that was flexible enough for the multiple uses, yet user-friendly enough for the museum staff to operate with ease.

As an independent acoustical consulting firm, our job is to represent the needs of the client throughout the entire project, ensuring that when everything is said and done, they end up with a fantastic sounding and looking space, and by all accounts, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is just that.

Acoustics By Design assisted the Museum with acoustical treatments in the Auditoria of the original historic building located at 155 North Division in downtown Grand Rapids in the mid 1990s. When plans started to incorporate the design of a new building, Acoustics By Design was pleased to be selected as the Acoustical and AV Consultant.

Acoustics By Design was hired to complete comprehensive acoustical consulting services by Design Plus, the Architect of Record, for the new art museum in 2004. The Museum was working with Munkenbeck & Marshall out of London, England as the design architect. Acoustics By Design worked closely with them and the Art Museum to provide acoustical recommendations and mechanical noise control services during design development and construction documents for the project. Acoustics By Design also collaborated with wHY Architects out of California to complete the design and to see the museum through construction, with Rockford/Pepper acting as the Construction Manager.

Acoustics By Design was also retained to complete comprehensive Audio and Video design services by the Grand Rapids Art Museum. We worked closely with GRAM and The Rise Group, the owner's representative from Chicago, to design a technical system for the Auditorium, Lobby, Board Room, Conference Room, and Children's Area, that was completely functional and yet easy to use. The Lobby sound system was designed to minimize sound propagation to other areas of the museum. The result is a state of the art system that can be monitored from any location, including the facility manager's desk in the administrative wing.

One of the greatest challenges of the project was the desire to create a building using sustainable materials and practices. One of the greatest successes of the building was recognition as the very first Art Museum in the world to be certified by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating system. The museum earned the Gold level of certification in 2008. In addition, it was named one of Newsweek Magazine's "Six Most Important Buildings of 2007."

Construction began in September 2004 for the new 125,000 SF facility, which is located on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids, adjacent to Rosa Parks Circle, the urban park designed by Maya Lin. A $75 million Capital Campaign was successful and included the $55 million museum facility, site acquisition, and operating endowment. The museum includes a 4,500 SF lobby/reception area, a 285-seat auditorium, several galleries, totaling 18,000 SF, for both changing exhibitions and permanent collections, a 2,400 SF retail shop, a 1,500 SF café, and 5,000 SF of educational area (studios and orientation areas), as well as one level of underground parking with space for 40 cars. The project was completed in October 2007.

Project Team

Client: Grand Rapids Art Museum
Client's representation: RISE Group
Acoustical Consultant: Acoustics By Design, Inc.
Audio Consultant: Acoustics By Design, Inc.
Video Consultant: Acoustics By Design, Inc.
Architect: wHY Architecture
Architect of Record: Design Plus, Inc.
Environmental Engineer: Atelier Ten
Mechanical Consultant: Design Plus, Inc.
Electrical Consultant: Design Plus, Inc.
Lighting Consultant: Isometrix Lighting + Design
Initial Concept Design: Munkenbeck and Marshall, London
General Contractors: Rockford Construction / Pepper Construction


Date Completed:

Acoustics By Design, Inc.

Consultants in Acoustics, Noise, Vibration, & Audio-Visual-Lighting Systems Design

Midwest acoustical consultants serving clients in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and in the major metropolitan areas of Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Madison, Milwaukee, Detroit, and West Michigan.

Tel: 616-241-5810 • Fax: 616-588-6390
Toll-free Fax: 877-603-5781

Contact Information

© Acoustics By Design