Berkshires Beat: Jacob's Pillow Opens New Studio Building
Pillow talk: Jacob's Pillow Dance celebrated the opening of the Perles Family Studio at an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 18. The Pillow's 85th Anniversary Festival Finale, on Aug. 26, will be the first event in the brand new space, which marks the first major on-site construction project at the Pillow since 1992.
The $5.5 million building was designed by award-winning Flansburgh Architects of Boston and constructed by Allegrone Companies of Pittsfield, Mass. The Perles Family Studio is an integral part of the Pillow's five-year strategic plan, Vision '22, which launches the Pillow as a year-round campus for programs, research, and development with initiatives made possible through a deep commitment to The School at Jacob’s Pillow, artist residencies, community engagement, and educational programs.
The 7,373-square-foot building, clad in weathered board and batten wood siding to create a farm-like aesthetic, features a 3,500-square-foot dance floor — nearly double the size of the main rehearsal space currently used by The School at Jacob's Pillow, the Sommers Studio. As the largest building at Jacob's Pillow, the studio was thoughtfully arranged like a barn with additions, including smaller spaces such as porches and sheds to complement the 50--foot by 70-foot central space and create multiple entrances at different levels.
The Perles Family Studio is multifunctional, serving as rehearsal space, instructional space, informal performance space, and facilities for visiting artists. The flexibility of the space is supported by carefully chosen building materials that minimize sound overflow between studios. Clerestories and cupolas control natural light and airflow in addition to concealed underfloor heating and cooling systems, which eliminate temperature and humidity challenges faced by dancers during the summer season. Oversized barn windows and doors create a strong linkage to the Berkshires landscape surrounding the building and a sense of community for dancers and visitors alike. Alcoves, overlooks, and ambulatories allow spectators to view classes and rehearsals without interrupting dancers and faculty. The space can accommodate up to 200 seats, such as for Inside/Out performances in the instances of rain and inclement weather.
The studio is named for the Perles Family, in recognition of a lead gift from the Perles Family Foundation and Jacob's Pillow Trustee Claudia Perles. The project was also supported by a $225,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, one of the largest gifts distributed this year.
Homebuying help: MassHousing has announced a limited-time, $1,500 closing cost credit for low- and moderate-income homebuyers that will run now through September to make home ownership more attainable, and sustainable, for working families.
MassHousing launched the initiative to make the $1,500 closing cost credit available to qualified buyers with incomes at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, which is $53,280 in Western Massachusetts and $82,270 in Eastern Massachusetts. The agency designed the closing cost credit to be simple and user-friendly for the agency’s 170 approved lenders, Realtors, and homebuyers.
For borrowers of modest means, the $1,500 closing cost credit delivers added affordability to their home purchase. Borrowers will receive the credit at closing, with no strings attached, no hidden fees and no payback requirements. For more information about the $1,500 closing cost credit, go online.
Register to race: Registration is open for the 41st annual Josh Billings RunAground. The triathlon, which crosses five Berkshire County towns with a 27-mile bike ride, a 5-mile canoe, kayak, or paddleboard sprint, and a 6-mile run, is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 17. The Josh starts at the Price Chopper plaza in Great Barrington and ends at Tanglewood in Lenox. Teams and ironpersons are encouraged to participate and can register or find more information online.
Organizers are also calling on volunteers to help support the event. If you are interested in helping, please email the race director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-344-7919. Proceeds from the event benefit Berkshire United Way.
Lunch and a tour: What do a museum and vacant churches have in common? Very little unless you are North Adams artist and innovator Eric Rudd. It all began 30 years ago when he wanted to make huge abstract sculptural "icebergs" but needed to figure out how to accomplish that. He managed to get himself "invited" to GE Plastics in Pittsfield, where they let him use a multi million-dollar industrial plastics blow-molder. They also gave him 4,000 pounds of Lexan, an engineer, an operator and let him create for a week at their R & D facility. Thus began a love affair with the Berkshires.
Fast forward several years and Rudd was looking for "outrageous space for a ridiculous price." When he found two abandoned churches, one of which he purchased "for the price of a car," he knew he had hit pay dirt. This summer, the churches, which have evolved into Berkshire Art Museum, will be hosting an exhibition of 30 artists.
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 11:30 a.m., a group will have lunch at Knesset Israel in Pittsfield then be transported to Berkshire Art Museum in North Adams for a guided tour of the exhibits with owner/artist Eric Rudd. The cost is $39 per person inclusive; register at 413-445-4872, ext. 10, by Sept. 1.
Sweeping announcement: The city of Pittsfield's website now features a street sweeping map located on the Department of Public Services web page. The map will be updated weekly with specific color designations to reflect the current status of street sweeping within the city. To view the map, click here.
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