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Skanska USA and Gilbane Construction have been selected to bring the extreme model railroad museum to life.

North Adams Model Railroad Museum Signs Construction Team

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The 83,000-square-foot building will house 9.5 miles of track and 150 signature architectural models. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Officials with the model railroad museum planned for Western Gateway Heritage State Park have signed agreements with Skanska USA and the Gilbane Building Co. to construct the 83,000-square foot building. 
Celebrated architect Frank Gehry was named as the building's designer last September. Skanska will function as the project manager, coordinating the activities of the designer, the construction manager, and the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum teams during both the design and construction process. 
Skanska and Gilbane are currently completing the $120 million Taconic High School in Pittsfield. 
Thomas Krens, principal in the creation and development of the museum, said Perri Petricca, president of Unistress and a member of the museum's board, was instrumental in coordinating the discussions and negotiations with George Swetz, executive vice president and general manager at Skanska, and Ryan Hutchins, senior vice president and regional manager at Gilbane, to develop the plan to bring the EMRCA to fruition. 
"Since late last year, Perri's role in communicating with Skanska and Gilbane on our behalf, and helping us frame the building program in the most cost-efficient manner, has been an asset of incalculable value," Krens said in a statement. "Mr. Petricca's vast experience in the construction business at the highest levels, and his aggressively pragmatic approach, have enabled us to give a concrete foundation to the plans that we believe will be transformative for northwestern Massachusetts."
The museum took out an option to purchase Western Gateway Heritage State Park and the former Sons of Italy property for $1.2 million last May from the Redevelopment Authority. It has an option to extend that a year by May 12, with a $30,000 deposit. The museum will be constructed on the former Sons property, with plans for a distillery, time museum and other establishments to go into the park.  
Mayor Thomas Bernard said two weeks ago that he had had conversations with the principals about the status of the project.
"I got an update on the project and they shared next steps, which suggest they may soon be moving forward the entire project," he said.
Gilbane was the construction manager for the recently completed expansion of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and has completed nearly 30 museum projects, including the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the Cleveland Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, Fla. Skanska, headquartered in Stockholm,  has been involved in the reconstruction of the Harvard Art Museums, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, MetLife Stadium, the new Moynihan Penn Station in New York, and the Stetson-Sawyer Library project at Williams College.
Gilbane will be responsible for constructing the new museum on time, within budget, and in accordance with the final design documents.
The EMRCA museum has been designed as a precision-scale narrative history of international architecture from the 1880s to the present, and will feature more than 150 masterpiece buildings by 71 world-class architects (including 34 Pritzker prize winners) in the context of an urban environment of more than 1,200 scale model buildings. 
The installation will also feature more than 100 precision O-scale locomotive models documenting the history of American railroads, operating on 9.5 miles of two-rail track on 12 separate lines throughout the 700-foot long building. The architecture and the railroads will be contextualized by a 30-foot high, 1,440 foot long continuous and seamless rear-screen video projection to provide natural and urban landscape depth and atmosphere throughout the installation.

Tags: Heritage State Park,   model railroad,   museum,   

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Mohawk Trail Woodlands, Forest Service Team Up on Conservation

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

BRPC's Tom Matuszko asks advisory board members to raise their hands as FRCOG's Executive Director Linda Dunlavy waits to speak.
CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A shared stewardship agreement signed Thursday will bring U.S. Forest Service expertise to the state while keeping hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland in state and private hands. 
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership will enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend on the region's natural resources such as tourism and forestry products.
"I am from this region, it is a part of the state that is near and dear to my heart," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides at signing held at Berkshire East Mountain Resort. "Something that is a priority to the governor is making sure that this region can continue to have economic security and opportunity for people, but also that connectedness to the landscape and that rootedness in the special places that make up Western Massachusetts."
Theoharides said the state is losing about 65 acres of forestland a day to development — housing, parking lots, and commercial establishments — and it's not coming back.  
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