Building Van Andel Institute – From 1996 to 2016

Twenty years have passed since Jay and Betty Van Andel founded Van Andel Institute (VAI) in 1996. As part of the Institute’s 20th anniversary celebration, and as a way to share VAI’s stories, we will be posting several “throwback” blogs throughout the coming months.

Our first throwback post is dedicated to the design and construction of VAI. Set on the corner of Bostwick Avenue and Michigan Street, Van Andel Institute is a seven-story, 400,000 square foot building, designed by famed architect Rafael Viñoly. Onlookers will notice the unique cascading skylight roofs that arc over the building’s terraced levels on both the east and west side. The glass roof allows an abundance of natural light to flood into office space and research laboratories, while offering Institute staff broad views over downtown Grand Rapids and the nearby Grand River.

The Institute was designed to be constructed in two phases, with each phase taking two years to build, from groundbreaking to grand opening; phase I was completed in 2000 and phase II in 2009. Scroll through the photo gallery below to see how VAI went from being an architect’s model to the biomedical research and science education facility it is today.