GRmagizineThe December issue of Grand Rapids Magazine published brief profiles on the 25 people their staff considered the city’s most important. The first person listed was Peter M. Wege. In Peter Wege’s biography titled “Looking Beyond Horizons,” reporter Curt Wozniak gave him credit for making Grand Rapids, Michigan, the greenest city in the country for its size.

The article explains: Years ago, The Wege Foundation decided to stop capital grants for any building that is not environmentally friendly. As a result, Grand Rapids boasts the most square-footage per capita of buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building LEED program, including the new Grand Rapids Art Museum which exists thanks to Wege’s support.

The writer goes on to recognize Wege for his environmental outreach that extends beyond his home city of Grand Rapids. In particular, the article cites Wege’s leadership on protecting the Great Lakes. Wozniak concludes by writing about Wege’s successful efforts, “His Healing Our Waters Coalition is backed by several U.S. legislators working to establish a united strategy for Great Lakes restoration.”


balletsideThe September 14, 2007, Grand Rapids Press announced the opening of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s new 300-seat Peter Martin Wege Theatre, named for Peter Wege’s father and Steelcase founder. The $6.3 million new theater more than doubled the Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s space bringing it to 40,000 square feet.

Press reporter Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk described the area where the Grand Rapids Ballet Company had been rehearsing. Just seven years ago, the professional company of dancers rehearsed in the basement of Grand Rapids’ Masonic Temple downtown. Its ceiling was so low, ballerinas who were lifted into the air had to duck to avoid hitting air ducts. On Thursday, (September 13, 2007) Grand Rapids Ballet Company’s dancers stepped into the footlights of their own theater adjoining the headquarters the ballet as occupied since 2001

The Press article described the new theater as an “environmentally friendly addition.” Over 240 people attended the black-tie opening “named for the father of lead donor Peter M. Wege.” Peter Wege was quoted as saying, ‘It’s a gorgeous building, and it’s wonderful for Grand Rapids.”’

The Peter Martin Wege Theatre adjoins the newly named Meijer-Royce Center For Dance, named for Peter’s friends and fellow benefactors, Fred and Lena Meijer and Chuck and Stella Royce. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, long-time ballet patron Stella Royce described the events leading up to the new Theatre and Center for Dance as “a real Cinderella story.”

The article notes that some 250 students take classes at the GRBC plus another 700 in the outreach program. Again, this gift of a ballet auditorium is not just about Arts & Culture, but about Education, with the GRBC students, and about Human Services, with the outreach classes. Of course, the Peter Martin Wege Theatre is green built making it touch the Environment Pillar as well.


grampeteratpodium (2)Wege Foundation Actively Fostering LEED-Certified Projects

(Grand Rapids Business Journal’s front-page headline August 20, 2007)

With a color photograph of the new Grand Rapids Art Museum covering most of the front page, the Business Journal article by Pete Daly begins:

GRAND RAPIDS – There is a wave of green construction sweeping through West Michigan, and riding the crest of that wave is the new Grand Rapids Art Museum. The $60 million art museum is scheduled to open on Oct. 5. When it does, may be the first completely new art museum to open with a silver Leadership in energy and Environmental Design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. It may even achieve a gold LEED rating eventually.

Celeste Adams, director of GRAM, explained in the article that it takes six months after construction for the LEED rating to come through. The news story explains that the highest LEED ratings are platinum, gold, and silver in that order. The next level is “LEED Certified” rating.

While LEED’s final word on GRAM is not yet known, the article makes it clear that one historical first is for sure. Daly writes: It will be the first and only art museum in the world in which the entire facility is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

Kulapat Yantrasast, from the Los Angeles firm Workshop Hakomori Yantrasast, was the architect for the new GRAM. He’s pictured here with Celeste Adams the night of the gala ball that opened GRAM in October 2007. They are standing in the entrance to the gallery named for the Wege Family.

In the article, Yantrasast notes that one green feature is the “capture and use of rainwater, funneled from the roof to a storage tank.” The recapture is to prevent the problem of water runoffs from parking lots and rooftops that cause major flooding problems as cities have so with little open ground to absorb excess water. Yantrasast noted that Grand Rapids has periodic sewage overflows into the Grand River when rainstorm water floods the treatment system.

The windowed GRAM uses natural light to save energy, but Yantrasast points out that this is a challenge in an art museum because ultra-violet rays can damage the artwork. For that reason, the roof skylights and some of the glass walls have layers of glass louvers that filter the sun light.

Celeste Adams expects that a quarter of a million people will visit the new 125,000 square-foot GRAM the first year.