Frank Gehry and other news of note

The second issue of the EMRCA Newsletter has just been released, six pages crammed full of news, background, and analysis on the multifaceted development now advancing in North Adams.  (Previous and subsequent issues of EMRCA Newsletters are always accessible from the link above, or to the right.)

The lead story is about Frank Gehry’s site visit to North Adams on September 1st, previously covered here and amplified by this photo essay.

I’ve just been reading the chapter in Paul Goldberger’s Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry about the collaboration of Gehry and Krens on the epoch-making Guggenheim Bilbao.  In a paragraph on how the museum far exceeded its projections for attendance and economic impact, Goldberger quotes a Basque official on the results of the new museum, “we recovered our self-esteem.”  Just the prescription for North Adams.

At the end of the chapter – after describing how 9/11 derailed the work of Gehry and Krens on the so-called “Manhattan project” of a huge new Guggenheim museum near the South Street Seaport, and the delays to actual construction of the pair’s equally massive Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – he declares “the partnership between Frank Gehry and Tom Krens was over.  It had brought forth the most famous building in the world, transformed tourism, reimagined the museum, and changed the role of architecture as a force for urban redevelopment.  [Gehry] and Krens had produced what was arguably the most important building of the late twentieth century, and neither of them could have done it alone.”

Goldberger concludes, “But it would not happen again.  There would be only one Bilbao.”  North Adams, however, is lining up to prove him wrong.

The new issue of the EMRCA Newsletter also contains features on the unique approach to a museum of architecture, and on how an art installation in LA convinced Krens of the special and near-universal appeal of kinetic scale-model replicas of real environments.

Willams College economics professor Stephen Sheppard outlines the methodology of his study of the economic impact of EMRCA along with other attractions in the “Massachusetts Cultural Corridor” between Williamstown and North Adams.

Another article outlines some of the cutting-edge technologies in laser-scanning, 3-D digital fabrication, and large-scale modelmaking that will make the EMRCA installation feasible and affordable.

A piece on the Hoosac Tunnel suggests how that 19th-century technological wonder makes North Adams an ideal location for a museum devoted to the importance of railroads as a transformative technical innovation.

A “Heritage Park Spotlight” illuminates plans for the Massachusetts Museum of Time, and its integral connection to the train and architecture museum (to which I contributed some thoughts).

There are also announcements of coming development events and publicity initiatives.  The project is moving forward on many fronts simultaneously, and further newsletters will report plans and progress in various directions, to which X-RR will link.  Come back here often as this grand venture unfolds.

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In the media

For more than four decades, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my acquaintance with Tom Krens has been the occasional opportunity to know the news before it hit the newspapers.  Though a family emergency rendered me unable to attend the recent North Adams press conference – which introduced Frank Gehry as architect of EMRCA, and outlined Tom’s larger plans for the further development of the city as a world-class cultural destination – I knew and reported on its substance beforehand.

What’s been interesting to follow since then is the reaction as stories appear in various media.

The “Newspaper of Record” took note.

As did the Boston Globe.

On the local front, iBerkshires had a good story and pictures that overlapped my own.  The Berkshire Eagle ran a front page spread.

But the most thoughtful analysis I’ve read so far appeared on the Berkshire Fine Arts website.

After a few days, notice spread to national special interest magazines such as Architectural Digest and Curbed.  Lonely Planet also had a feature.

I’ll alert you to further links as they become available, and I also refer you to the Media reports link above, for the history of press coverage as the grand North Adams project has progressed.