- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A gardens and sculpture park in western Michigan has announced the groundbreaking of a $115 million expansion project.

A statement from Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park said the first phase of the expansion began in September. The Grand Rapids attraction has hired New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects for the project. The firm also is designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

“We are deeply honored to have been selected by Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for this special project,” Tod Williams said. “From our very first visit, we were struck by the incredible quality of the sculpture collection and its sensitive installation throughout the grounds, as well as by their magnificent Japanese Garden. We saw that the place and the people here are unique.”

The project includes a new welcome center, rooftop sculpture garden and picnic pavilion. Officials said the new areas will allow the attraction to increase educational offerings, expand annual horticulture exhibitions, host more events and create additional space.

Funding for the project came from gifts and pledges through the attraction’s capital campaign titled “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love,” said David Hooker, president and CEO of the attraction.

“The word ‘enjoyment’ is in the middle of our mission statement,” Hooker said. “Our mission calls on us to bring joy to people using the art forms of sculpture and horticulture. The gifts we have been given will be used to bring tremendous joy to people. We’re thrilled with the success of our ambitious capital campaign, but mostly we are deeply moved by the community’s continued generosity toward Meijer Gardens.”

Officials of the attraction said over 750,000 people visit Meijer Gardens each year.

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