NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Internationally known architect Frank Gehry and architects from his office will join former Gov. William Weld, Mayor Richard Alcombright and former Guggenheim Director Thomas Krens on Friday to tour the 10-acre site for the new Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum.
The Gehry tour will also include Western Gateway Heritage State Park, downtown North Adams, the Mohawk Theater (which Gehry has also been invited to redesign), and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Krens, one of the movers behind Mass MoCA, plans to redevelop the park and adjacent parcel of land by the Hoosic River into a high-tech model railroad and architecture museum.
Gehry was the first architect commissioned by Krens to create the first proposals for Mass MoCA in 1987; and he received an honorary degree from Williams College in 2002. He also worked with Krens when he created the award-winning design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
Earlier this summer, Gehry Partners and EMRCA Inc. signed an agreement for Gehry to design the 83,000 square-foot museum. The EMRCA is part of an 11-component cultural development master plan for the city of North Adams developed by Krens and his team over the past 20 months. In addition to Gehry, four components of the project are being designed by Richard Gluckman, and four by French architect Jean Nouvel.
A press conference will be held immediately after the site and city tour at 4 a.m.l, September 1, at the EMRCA offices in Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams.
The North Adams Cultural Development Master Plan builds on the foundation of the major cultural institutions already in place in Northern Berkshire County — the Clark Art Institute, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mass MoCA, and the Williams College Museum of Art — and is specifically focused on generating a significant and immediate economic impact and public health benefit for the Northern Berkshires.
Dr. Gray Ellrodt, chief of medicine for Berkshire Health Systems, and Williams economics professor Stephen Sheppard will join the group for a press conference at 4 p.m. at the EMRCA offices in the park. Sheppard produced the economic impact analysis outlining the transformational scope of the undertaking; Ellrodt has helped developed insights into the anticipated public health benefits. They will comment on their findings.
Krens, director emeritus of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, will briefly outline current plans for the creation of five new, world-class museums in North Adams; the revitalization of downtown with a luxury hotel, spa and wellness center; the creation of a central park or commons on Main Street; and the renovation of the Mohawk Theater. Planning information and program models of the 11 projects will be on view at the EMRCA offices at the reception after the press conferences.
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