Updated models and other progress

Big things are taking shape in North Adams, Massachusetts, and new developments propel the project forward.  Many are detailed in the latest EMRCA newsletter.  Some I previewed in my last post here.

Certainly the partnership with two major construction companies, Skanska USA and Gilbane Building Company, remains the big news and puts the railroad and architecture museum on track for a 2021 opening.  But developing plans call for this huge attraction to be just the centerpiece for a larger transformation of downtown North Adams into a cultural magnet.

Do not miss the centerfold spread of the latest newsletter, which pictures Tom’s overall vision for “The North Adams Cultural Development Master Plan,” with many other elements beyond EMRCA itself, but all predicated on the half-million or more annual visitors projected for the central attraction.  If the plan seems overly ambitious, just consider the transformation that Tom’s urban planning has brought to unlikely locales like Bilbao and Abu Dhabi.

Part of the newsletter is devoted to the celebration surrounding the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the association of its architect, Jean Nouvel, to the overall North Adams project.  Other articles give background on the emerging technologies that will enable EMRCA to become an encompassing gesamtkunstwerk.  Also covered are the involvement of local and state government officials, and changes in tax law that open new opportunities for financing the project.

You can see that I have updated the header of this website, to reflect the new location and dimensions of the planned Extreme Model Railroad & Contemporary Architecture Museum.  Though the exterior design is far from final, this picture is less misleading than my previous header, which reflected superseded plans from two years ago.

New and expanded plans are reflected in ever-evolving scale models in the EMRCA offices at Heritage Park in North Adams.  The plan of the museum’s interior has been refined but not substantially altered since I posted The Model 2.0 but other models have been created and developed in the interim, so I have returned to examine the premises.  Modeling is as essential to the process as to the final product.


A new cross-section model that I call “Behind the Wizard’s Curtain” goes a long way to explaining the technology behind the immersive experience that the museum will provide and how the viewer will perceive it:

Note the technical access both below the flooring and the display area, and the scaffolding with video projectors between the interior and exterior walls.

To refresh your memory, here’s the long view down the huge open and unencumbered space of the central gallery of EMRCA, a total of 49,000 square feet:

Cafe in foreground, educational and administrative departments on glass-walled second level to the right, and the long vista from landscape to cityscape.

Here is how that interior will fit in its exterior dimensions and siting (again, exterior design provisional):

That model is part of a larger model of the grand project envisioned for downtown North Adams.  Here is its location, seen in the background, in relation to Main Street with the existing Holiday Inn in the right foreground, and in the center the imagined Jean Nouvel-designed hotel.  Behind that is a “Central Park,” surrounded by other museums and condominiums.

In reverse angle, see EMRCA in foreground with pedestrian bridge to Central Park, adjacent to multi-function parking garage and events space:

Reverse angle again, to focus on Central Park area.  Beyond EMRCA see more parking adjacent to Route 8, also for use by Joe Wolfe Field and riverside park envisioned by the Hoosic River Revival initiative:

From the other side of the display table, look from existing Heritage Park across Route 8 overpass to redeveloped downtown, with groundplan on wall behind:

Dip down for view of Heritage Park with planned Massachusetts Museum of Time, and Mount Greylock Craft Distillery in the foreground:

Speaking of which, here’s another new model, with floor plans and photos of prototypes:

From the production side, and the tasting side:

One last view shows EMRCA entrance from Route 8, with a massive bit of whimsy from Tom’s long and extensive connection to the international art world.  Jeff Koons’ huge floral puppy became one of the signature images of the Guggenheim Bilbao.  His hanging full-sized locomotive was originally conceived for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and subsequently considered for a place above the High Line in New York.  Wouldn’t it be a kick if it finally found its perfect home in North Adams?  A long shot, but I wouldn’t put it past Tom to bring it off.

Call this all a blue-sky pipe-dream if you must, but you gotta admit, it’s kinda cool.


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