These three great green art museums have proved that going green can be an art form of its own.

The Milwaukee Art Museum

The striking Quadracci Pavilion immediately captures visitors to The Milwaukee Art Museum. Depending on the timing of their arrival, they may witness this building growing its wings, so to speak. The 142,050 square-foot Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava, features a movable sunscreen that looks like a pair of wings.

With a 217-foot span, the Burke Brise Soleil is a massive sunscreen that opens with the museum every morning and closes every evening. Sensors on the pavilion also automatically close the wings anytime the wind speed exceeds 23 mph for more than three seconds.

Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) in Michigan is the country’s first LEED for New Construction certified art museum. The facility green design earned a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council as well as a nod from Newsweek as one of the Six Most Important Buildings of 2007.

The museum is located in downtown Grand Rapids and its completion finalized an urban renewal project in the area. It’s location puts the museum at an easy walking distance from downtown office buildings, it is located on the city bus line, and the museum has bicycle storage and a changing room for employees that bike to work. No additional parking space was built as the museum is in close proximity to five existing parking structures.

Although the design did not include a green roof, the museum did install a white roof to reduce the heat island affect. Additionally, all external pavement surfaces were paved with light color materials. When combining these measures with off site parking, GRAM earned a LEED credit for heat reduction.

Other green measures found in the building include a grey water collection and storage system, an advanced HVAC system that is not only efficient but meets the needs of a museum space, and used locally sourced products for over 58% of the construction materials.

Seattle Art Museum

All three of the Seattle area art museums operate with sustainability in mind. The Seattle Art Museum Downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park are all part of the SAM Goes Green Team, which participates in the Seattle Climate Partnership as well as the Seattle Climate Action Now group.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is located on a restored former industrial site. The environmentally friendly restoration started with the addition of engineer soil. This three-foot deep batch of soil was designed to replicate what was onsite prior to the industrial site development. Ultimately, the soil prevents unnecessary runoff and fosters biodiversity.

The Olympic Sculpture Park also meets Salmon-Safe standards, composts food in its café, practices green gardening, and has educational programs that focus on art and the environment.

GRAM exterior photo: Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing

GRAM interior photo: Scott McDonald/Hedrich Blessing

Olympic Sculpture park Photo:  seamark/Flickr

3 great green art museums
A building with wings, the first LEED Gold certified art museum, and a city’s entire museum system goes green.