OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has transformed from a small horticultural society to a world-renowned institution.
“It used to just be a place that you would visit while you were in Grand Rapids,” said Robert Ferguson of Progressive AE in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Now it’s a destination in and of itself for people traveling from all over the world.”
The facility combines the late Fred Meijer’s love for collecting works of art and his wife Lena’s love of plants and other horticulture. In all, the facility consists of nearly 300 pieces of art and 158 acres of rock landscapes, a waterfall and a variety of exotic plant selections.
Since Meijer Gardens opened in 1995, the number of visitors and members has skyrocketed, and the exhibits and programs have expanded as a result. They now have over 28,000 member families and about 40,000 visiting students from all over the world each year.
With so much growth in such a short amount of time came the need for more space. In 2017, Meijer Gardens announced the multi-phase, $115 million renovation project that will allow them to bring joy to more visitors, welcome new audiences, educate more people, create new exhibitions and offer new and distinct visual experiences during all four seasons of the year. The renovation plans for an annual guest attendance of 1.2 to 1.5 million.
To plan for the increase in annual attendance, Meijer Gardens needed to add new features, update existing features and incorporate power throughout the facility to support a variety of events and programs.
Renovating for the Future
As a part of the renovation project, Meijer Gardens has already opened a catering kitchen, a transportation center and the Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden on top of the new Covenant Learning Center. Still to come is a picnic area with seating for about 240 people next to the revamped amphitheater, which hosts about 39 concerts every summer. Existing buildings and exhibition areas will also be renovated and expanded.
Looking for a way to bring power and connectivity to visitors throughout the gardens and facility, Progressive AE out of Grand Rapids found a solution with the Wiremold® Ground Box from Legrand.
With a low-profile design, the Legrand Wiremold Ground Box mounts flush with any outdoor ground surface. This allows Meijer Gardens to incorporate power throughout the grounds for a variety of events, programs and classroom activities without compromising the beauty of the gardens or the detracting from the artwork.
“A lot of the facilities at the gardens have one use during the day and transform into event centers in the evenings,” Ferguson said. “So the ability to set up light and a PA system and have power throughout the facility led us to recommending the ground box.”
The ground box has been installed around the outside of the new Covenant Learning Center, in the Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden and in the new Cook Transportation Center. They will also be installed in the new picnic area, in the entranceway and throughout the gardens and facilities. Outlets throughout the property will accommodate lighting for events, programs and exhibits.
“One of the biggest advantages of the Legrand Ground Box is the flexibility it provides,” Thompson said. “We can plug in AV devices or speakers for the amphitheater, low-voltage lighting for ticketing or even a Wi-Fi device or a wireless access point. We can plug whatever we need into it and not have to worry about it being damaged by people walking over it.”
Able to Withstand All 4 Seasons
Meijer Gardens’s location along the eastern coast of Lake Michigan subjects it to lake-effect weather. For this reason, intrusion of water into outdoor power systems is of great concern.
The Legrand Ground Box is safe to use during all seasons. It is built with UV-resistant material that can stand up to the harshest weather conditions.
“The weather in Grand Rapids isn’t always conducive to these types of products,” Thompson said. “We can get weather from all four seasons in a matter of a few days, but the ground box can stand up to that.”
With its diving bell-inspired design, the ground box is the first outdoor-rated ground box with a NEMA 6P wiring enclosure for wet conditions. In the event of heavy rain or flooding, the wiring enclosure keeps connectivity points safe and dry, even if water gets into the ground box.
With an ANSI/SCTE 77 Tier-5 rating, the ground box can withstand a 5,000-pound load, so any grounds keeping tractors or lawn mowers moving about Meijer Gardens won’t cause any problems.
So far, Progressive AE has been hearing good feedback about the new power solution.
Continuing the Meijer Legacy
Meijer Gardens is one of the Meijer family’s greatest legacies in the Grand Rapids area. Fred always wanted the gardens and the sculpture park to be there for kids and adults who want to learn. The renovation project and the Legrand Ground Box ensure that the Meijer Gardens will educate, entertain and delight visitors well into the future.