Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-1953 Credit: Cathy Carver Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden
Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-1953 Credit: Cathy Carver

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of the nation’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, is proud to announce the opening of the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

Located on top of the recently completed 22,000-square-foot Covenant Learning Center, this unique space is unlike any other garden or rooftop in West Michigan. The Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden is part of the Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love expansion project and furthers Meijer Gardens’ mission of promoting the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of gardens, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts.

Alexander Calder, Sky Hooks, 1962 Credit: Lee Stalsworth Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden
Alexander Calder, Sky Hooks, 1962
Credit: Lee Stalsworth

“The Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden is a completely new garden experience. It will have an urban garden look and feel with stunning views of the wetlands,” said David Hooker, president and CEO. “Our gratitude to the Padnos family is deep and sincere. They have supported a very broad range of cultural projects in West Michigan and beyond and we are honored to have a signature sculpture garden named in their honor. Stuart Padnos was an accomplished sculptor and we are fortunate to have several pieces of his work in our permanent collection. It is most fitting that this new garden carries the Padnos name.”

Central to the experience on the rooftop garden is the blending of horticultural elements and sculpture, including the siting of four long-term loans from the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Significant modern and contemporary sculpture from Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Marino Marini and David Smith will be on view.

The works by Calder, Moore and Marini represent different periods in the life and work of these artists than the existing works in the permanent collection. David Smith’s work is new to Meijer Gardens. An American abstract expressionist sculptor and painter, Smith is best known for creating large, abstract steel geometric sculptures and was a great influence on the post-World War II Minimal art movement. This loan was made possible due to Meijer Gardens’ ongoing relationship with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden dating back to a long-term loan of Alexander Calder’s Two Discs in 2007. The Hirshhorn is currently undergoing its first redesign in more than 40 years, led by renowned architect and artist Hiroshi Sugimoto.

This new rooftop garden consists of a clean, modern design that creates a distinctly urban space that highlights vistas to the wetlands and boardwalk areas that mark the eastern border of the Meijer Gardens campus. The garden has been designed to be a beautiful, flexible space for events, weddings, gatherings and everyday enjoyment. The area is visible from the interior sculpture gallery space and the sculptures displayed will rotate over time depending on the sculpture exhibitions occurring inside. The horticultural elements of the garden have been designed to provide four seasons of interest. The Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden offers many environmental benefits, including moderating temperature changes in the Covenant Learning Center, stormwater management and offering a diverse habitat for birds, butterflies and insects.

“Meijer Gardens has done an incredible job of fusing Lena Meijer’s love of gardening with Fred Meijer’s passion for sculpture into an amazing institution. Stuart and Barbara Padnos also shared in those passions. It is a special delight for our family to be able to honor them by contributing to this wonderful addition,” said Jeff Padnos. “Our family is truly thrilled to be part of this wonderful example of what we can accomplish with vision and collaboration.” 

The $115 million Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love expansion project underway at Meijer Gardens is addressing facility needs that came from significant growth over the institution’s 24-year history. New areas across the campus will allow Meijer Gardens to expand annual horticulture exhibitions, provide more galleries for sculpture exhibitions and art storage facilities, add room for guests to move about safely and easily, host more events, add educational offerings and create additional space that is LEED-certified and architecturally significant. The project is also adding parking capacity and improving vehicle flow.