Trainsformation

X-RR has some new information about further developments with EMRCA and Thomas Krens’ plans for the transformation of North Adams into the flagship of the “Massachusetts Cultural Corridor.”

EMRCA has expanded its offices into another building at Heritage Park, offering a space that is both workshop and showroom, displaying many of the modalities of modelmaking.  And now they are offering public viewing hours, on most Thursdays and Fridays from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

What you can see in process includes a 3-D model in 1:24 scale of the actual Extreme Model Railroad display.  This is in effect the canvas on which the big picture will be painted.  With terrain mapped by Google Earth images and populated with scale models of many famous buildings from around the world, recreated by digital files through a 3-D printer, this 30-foot tabletop adds a new aspect of tangibility to the whole project.

As Tom emphasizes, EMRCA has now become an exercise in cutting-edge technology, as much as an artistic, business, or cultural development.

On another massive tabletop, one of the final display’s centerpieces is about to take shape, an immense and immensely-detailed O-scale model of Grand Central Station.  In an illuminated showcase, you can also see some of the marvelous detailing of O-scale locomotives and railroad cars, which will make EMRCA such a kinetic attraction.

And then the pièce de résistance, another huge tabletop model, this one of all of downtown North Adams, which shows the site and scale of a completed EMRCA and totality of Heritage Park within its urban context, along with Tom’s vision for a revitalized downtown in proportion with EMRCA’s plausibly-projected half-million annual visitors.

A centerpiece is a luxury hotel with an architectural theme, and ground-floor exhibition space open to the public.  The model layout also includes two more museums, of Motorcycles and of American Art, around a central park, as well as large-scale public art installations.

I’m always kidding Tom that he wants to be the Baron Haussmann of North Adams, as transformative as the latter was to Paris in the mid-19th century.  This model is the proof of concept, and worth seeing for its own imaginative and artistic appeal.  Whether it’s a realizable vision is certainly an open question, but with public support and private investment, it could transform humble North Adams into a world-class destination.

It’s certainly attracting world-class interest, as you can see in this photograph of Pritzker Prize-winning, internationally-renowned architect Jean Nouvel looking at the model, as Mayor Richard Alcombright gestures over this re-imagined downtown for his city.  Nouvel stands before a model of the glass-sheathed hotel that Tom and his craftsmen based on one of Nouvel’s existing buildings.

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Meanwhile, here’s another view of the prototype of EMRCA’s scale model of the Empire State Building, which has moved from its temporary exhibition at MassMoCA to the cavernous space of the mothballed Mohawk Theater, another building earmarked for development in Tom’s plans, but in its current vacancy, one of the few spaces that can comfortably accommodate EMRCA’s ultimate architectural models in development.

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