Airport Manager Willard Greenwald advocated for ways to get natural light into interior rooms in the new terminal.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The newly renovated airport administration building is essentially complete and ready to house all airport operations and a restaurant.
And the anticipation is killing Airport Manager Willard Greenwald
"I get so excited about it," he said Friday afternoon during a tour of the building. "It's gorgeous. I can't wait to show this place off."
Initially the state wanted several years ago to fund a totally new building at Harriman & West Airport. Greenwald said the state was prepared to invest $5.5 million to build a 4,300 square-foot building.
However, funding didn't pan out and the city was sent back to the drawing board. That's when a compromise was found to use what was already there: the former doctors' building.
The 20-year-old building on airport land had housed a medical practice under the former Northern Berkshire Healthcare. When NBH went bankrupt, its assets were purchased by Berkshire Health Systems, which gifted the vacant building to the city in 2018.
"We knew we had this building here and we knew they didn't want it so we approached them," Greenwald said.
After securing funds from the Aeronautics Division of the state Department of Transportation, the city had the building moved 150 feet closer to the runway and began the renovation.
Greenwald noted the city got a larger 5,600 square-foot building that fits better in the airport for $3.5 million.
"We got a much bigger building and it looks the part," he said. "It is a New England Cape building. It has fireplaces and is warm and cozy. In the end, it worked out."
A large fireplace sits in the middle of the main lobby. Greenwald said the plan is to furnish the room with seating and tables.
Off to the right of the lobby, there is a spacious unfinished restaurant space that Greenwald thinks will be the hottest place to eat in North Adams.
"Can you imagine sitting here on a day like today?" he asked. "Look at the views! There is no place else like this. Every now and then an airplane will come or go."
The city recently released a request for proposals to operate the space but only received one response. Although discouraging, the Airport Commission could ease up on the hours of operations requested in the RFP and city administrators are confident a second RFP would yield results.
Greenwald said the space is ready to be transformed into whatever a restaurateur wants, with a fireplace centered in the middle of the space and large windows facing the runway.
"Someone could knock the cover off the ball here," he said.
There is both an outdoor patio and a takeout window fixed to the building.
Greenwald went over some of the nuts and bolts of the space, and said the room is laid out to accommodate a bar with utilities ready to go.
Utilities are also set up in the kitchen and the room is ready to accommodate sinks, drainage, a walk in freezer, cooler, and has access to natural gas.
Greenwald said the space was smartly metered separately keeping it isolated from airport operations.
Upstairs there is office space for the restaurant as well as dry storage.
Continuing down the upstairs hallway, there are two offices the city plans to rent out and an airport document room.
"For the first time ever, the airport has a designated room for documents," he said. "We are finally going to consolidate everything. There are reams and reams of paper spread around City Hall."
Greenwald pointed out the large windows in each of the upstairs rooms. Where it was impossible to put a window, Greenwald said he asked that they open up space on the walls to let natural light in.
"Seems picky but having natural light is very important to me," he said. "All of these windows open and have amazing views."
From an operations standpoint, the new building will also allow the airport to consolidate all of its equipment. Currently the weather station equipment, phone lines, and other implements are in separate buildings on the airport campus -- buildings that don't even belong to the city.
Greenwald said all of this equipment will now not only be all under the same roof but in the same rooms with plans to run a security system and other essentials.
The airport terminal is nearing completion and is looking for an operator for the building's restaurant space.
He was just as excited about these equipment rooms, custodial closets, and utility access areas that were well lit, accessible, and organized. Even in the the bathrooms, he pointed out what he called "Greenwald Specials."
"Stainless steel, no grout lines, wall-mounted toilets, and no feet on the stalls," he said. "Everyone laughed at me in the design room whenever anything came up. I wanted to make sure everything was easy to maintain. North Adams does not have a ton of money and we need to make it as easy to clean and as beautiful as we can."
He pointed to the flooring, for example.
"All of this stuff is high scuff-resistant laminate flooring," he said. "They wanted to put carpet down ... you can spill coffee on this and just mop it up and you're good."
Back on the first floor Greenwald, entered a conference room that will house Airport Commission meetings and a pilot's lounge.
"We are trying to do more and more charter flights ... It may not seem busy but all of those flights landing in Pittsfield going to Williams College are landing here now," he said. "This is where the crew can hang out, relax and maybe grab a few Zs ... now they just hang out in my office."
Also on the first floor is the manager's office, a small classroom, and the Fixed Base Operator office equipped with a mini kitchen and a fireplace.
There is still some work to do in the building and the contractor is clearing a punch list before a grand opening can be held.