Krens at the Clark

EMRCA principal Thomas Krens will be giving a series of four illustrated talks at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, beginning Sunday, October 21st, at 3:00 pm.  Details are here.

The series goes under the title “Building Culture, Changing Societies” and will cover his experiences in Abu Dhabi and Bilbao, as well as in Manhattan and other cities where he developed major projects as director of the Guggenheim.  The final talk, on February 10, 2019, will cover the “unfinished business” of EMRCA.

As someone who has been watching Tom give illustrated talks in various venues for longer than either of us would care to divulge, I can assure you that whatever the nominal subject, the matter will be wide-ranging, deeply fascinating, and visually spectacular.  And more charming and humorous than you might expect, given the Krens rep for arrogance.  You will have a hard time not getting swept up in his visions.

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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.

 

Signs of spring

Though it happens to be snowing at the moment I’m writing, maybe the long Berkshire winter is about to end.  And maybe next year around this time, ground will be broken for construction of EMRCA, the eagerly-awaited museum of trains and architecture, planned by Thomas Krens as a centerpiece to the transformation of North Adams into a tourist magnet.

Design and construction companies have signed on, following the naming of Frank Gehry as architect, and all that remains is to raise the financial investment necessary to leverage the massive project.  Both banks and potential investors will look more favorably on the project now that substantial corporations with proven track records and tangible assets are attached to it.

The involvement of Skanska USA and Gilbane Building Company was announced this month in an EMRCA press release, and reported in the Berkshire Eagle and iBerkshires.  (The press release includes photos that do not reflect the final Gehry exterior design, but show the footprint and the scale of the building, which will dazzle upon approach from Route 8 north or south, or from downtown North Adams.)

These two are global companies of great reach and significant history, including experience in the Berkshires.  Both companies are collaborating on the new Taconic High School in Pittsfield, while Skanska was involved with new Stetson-Sawyer Library at Williams College, and Gilbane with the recent expansion of MassMoCA.

These new relationships were formed largely through the agency of Perri Petricca, president of Pittsfield’s Unistress Corporation and new member of EMRCA’s emerging Board of Directors.  The press release calls his efforts “an asset of incalculable value,” giving the project’s plans “a concrete foundation” (pun intended?).

Coincidentally, the real estate section of the New York Times, just featured Tom Krens and EMRCA as part of a long story headlined, “Betting on the Berkshires.”

In another coincidence, Max Hollein, a former deputy of Krens at the Guggenheim,  has just been named director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  That makes six major museums headed by Tom’s former assistants.

The Times followed up with a profile of Hollein, in which Tom figures prominently as a mentor.  The money quote:  “What he took from Mr. Krens, Mr. Hollein said, was that he could push an ambitious agenda until the pieces fell into place and naysayers came around.”  That describes the current state of play in North Adams precisely.

Krens is still consulting on an enormous project in Abu Dhabi, but North Adams will remain his pièce de résistance, the culmination of a distinguished career in museums and urban development.

Postscript:  A rather arcane development that could have major impact in the financing of the the museum project is Governor Baker’s designation of its site as an Opportunity Zone, as defined by recent tax legislation to aid community development.

 

Jean Nouvel and more news of note

The third issue of the EMRCA newsletter has been released, and while I have no further inside information to impart at this time, there is plenty of interesting news in the publication.

Featured is the story of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel’s involvement with the North Adams Cultural Development Master Plan, and specifically the Wilsonian Art Hotel proposed for Main Street.  The hook is the November 11th opening of Nouvel’s building for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which arose out of the master plan for the Saadiyat Island cultural district, developed by EMRCA principal Thomas Krens in 2005, when he was director of the Guggenheim Foundation.  The newsletter details the genesis of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project in a meeting between Krens and Nouvel in 2006, as well as Nouvel’s visit to North Adams in 2016.

Here are a variety of media links covering the museum opening:  New York Times; Christian Science Monitor; The Guardian; W Magazine; The Art Newspaper; Official LAD museum video (arrow right for 2-minute promo); Wikipedia entry; CNN feature; BBC video.  The Atlantic has a nice suite of photos.  But above all, I recommend this stupendous three-minute time-lapse video.  The NYT followed up with a nuanced art review of the museum itself.

In this issue’s “Heritage Park Spotlight,” the focus is on the Mount Greylock Craft Distillery, designed by architect Richard Gluckman to transform the park’s existing Buildings 5 and 6 into a showplace attraction of local craft distilling, along with dining and entertainment opportunities.  It’s worth adding that Tom’s son Nick, pictured in the story about the 2006 meeting between Krens and Nouvel, is an active participant in planning for the distillery.

There are brief stories on the visit of officials of the Massachusetts legislative Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development to EMRCA’s offices in Heritage Park, and on Krens’ keynote presentation to the annual dinner of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.  There is also notice of a forthcoming panel in San Francisco with Krens, designated EMRCA architect Frank Gehry, and former Massachussetts governor William Weld, similar to prior well-received panels in NYC and LA, which illustrates once again Krens’ web of associations among architects and museum directors worldwide.

There are also two brief stories on other railroad-related developments in Berkshire County.  One on the revival of planning for a direct rail connection between NYC and Pittsfield, and the other on the completion of track restoration for the Berkshire Scenic Railroad route from Adams to North Adams, where the terminus is adjacent to the proposed EMRCA site.

Finally, there is another feature on one of the inspirations for EMRCA, the stunningly detailed O-scale brass models of historic locomotives and railroad cars produced by Kohs & Company.  A much deeper dive into the artistry and engineering of the company’s models is available on the Kohs website.

All in all, this newsletter demonstrates the many ways work is advancing on a radical transformation of North Adams into a major cultural destination.

They’ve been working on the railroad

All the live long day.

And now they want to tell you about it.

The folks at EMRCA are moving into a more public phase of their endeavor.  While they’ve been inviting people to visit their offices and workshops at Heritage Park for many months, now their outreach will extend to a periodic newsletter, outlining the many fronts on which the work is advancing.

X-RR will link to the newsletters as they become available, and – full disclosure – I will be working with the editorial board of the publication.  So I’ll have inside sources while maintaining an independent voice.  I don’t pretend to neutrality, however.  I am an enthusiastic, if not uncritical, supporter of the whole North Adams project.

Who’s been working on the railroad?

Well, Tom Krens, of course, but I’ve written plenty about him, and will be writing lots more, predicated on more than a half-century of acquaintance.  Here I want to mention several people whom I am coming to know, and whom I hope to profile at greater length in a subsequent post, along with others I have yet to meet:

Ben Sosne is Operations Manager, responsible for political and legal administration.  Andrée Heller is Project Manager, responsible for programming, communication, and advancement.  James Jarzyniecki is Chief Designer & Architect, responsible for the fabrication and construction for the model train installation.  Raynor Sebring is Research Analyst, responsible for historical and educational content development, with particular attention to railroad history.  William Docarmo is the installation engineer who has been instrumental to the project from Tom’s earliest inspiration.

Who will be working on the railroad? 

This is the biggest news flash.  Renowned architect Frank Gehry has signed a design development agreement with EMRCA and will be making a site visit to North Adams on 9/1/17.  Besides designing a signature building for the model train & architecture museum, Mr. Gehry will consult on two related projects, the Mohawk Theater and the Hoosac River Revival.

Meanwhile, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld has been retained, as principal of Mintz Levin Strategies, the consulting subsidiary of a major Boston law firm, to lead capital fund-raising and investment, as well as advising on corporate and governmental legal matters.

On August 14th at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an appreciative full house attended a panel discussion titled “A Tale of Three Cities,” which surveyed the impact of art and culture as a driver of urban development, based on the experience of thirty years in North Adams, Bilbao, and Los Angeles.  Besides Mr. Gehry and Governor Weld, the panelists were Thomas Krens, Director Emeritus of the Guggenheim and prime mover of EMRCA, and Michael Govan, currently Director of LACMA.  (The whole discussion can be viewed here.)

By no coincidence, all four were involved in the early development of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, which has just reached its full potential with a recent expansion that doubled its gallery space.  Joseph Thompson was also among those founding fathers, and has been MassMoCA’s director from its opening to its current efflorescence.  (See him and the new building in this PBS Newshour segment.)

Gehry and Krens, of course, were both primary contributors to the success of the Guggenheim Bilbao, widely considered the “most important piece of architecture built since 1980.”  For their press conference in North Adams on September 1st, they will be joined by three former governors of Massachusetts; in addition to William Weld, Michael Dukakis and Deval Patrick are slated to attend.  Dukakis initiated urban heritage parks including North Adams’ during his tenure, and was the first governor to greenlight MassMoCA, while  Patrick’s support made its recent expansion possible.

Tom is a master of the art of making connections – personal, conceptual, intellectual, cultural, practical – and a ringmaster (or taskmaster, as some might say) in enlisting individual talents in a collective endeavor.

What work is being done on the railroad?  

On so many fronts – where to begin?  Most basically, EMRCA has taken options to privately purchase from the City of North Adams both the existing Heritage Park and the adjacent parcel, where the abandoned Sons of Italy building is now and the Gehry-designed, purpose-built train/architecture museum will be.

With the enthusiastic support of Mayor Richard Alcombright and the city administration, EMRCA has submitted an application for a $5.4 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant for site remediation and bridge reconstruction.  Included in the application are two reports generated by an earlier planning grant from the Commonwealth:

First, an economic impact analysis by the Center for Creative Community Development, led by Williams economics professor Stephen Sheppard, which projects more than half a million visitors, and the potential for a multiplier effect that would yield up to two thousand additional jobs in the region.

Secondly, a Master Plan for Heritage Park redevelopment, prepared by Gluckman Tang Architects, which details the transformation of the existing buildings into a showplace Mount Greylock Distillery and a Museum of Time, as well as other dining, retail, and support facilities.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gray Ellrodt, Chief of Medicine at Berkshire Medical Center and member of the EMRCA planning committee, has examined community health care outcomes of related economic development and shown what they can do to alleviate “diseases of despair.”

In terms of documentation to draw believers in its core project, EMRCA has moved from its original Conceptual Development Study – a massive volume designed to deluge doubters with facts and bludgeon them into submission – to a slimmed-down prospectus that offers a concise mission statement spread over a portfolio of illustrations, designed to attract and entice investors and supporters.  Most impressive is the double-gatefold layout of the track plan of the model train display, which covers an unbroken, high-vaulting expanse longer than two football fields.

How is the railroad moving beyond words and pictures to tangible practicality?

A thirty-foot 3-D physical model of the entire display has been created in 1:24 scale.  An unauthorized first look is offered under the heading “The Model 2.0” above.

The second floor of the EMRCA workshop at Heritage Park has been transformed into a test track platform, so the technical details of all sorts of crossings and couplings can be confirmed, using 2-Rail instead of the more common 3-Rail O-gauge, for greater detail and verisimilitude.

At the same time, the curatorial aspects of the museum’s railroad and architecture components are being refined, with the determination of 164 modern architectural masterpieces whose finely-detailed models will be interspersed among more than a thousand generic buildings, and 107 historic steam and diesel locomotives that will run simultaneously.

When will this train reach its destination?

Frankly, that’s a question that only time and money can answer, but all preparations are underway to fast-track the project.  The multiplicity and simultaneity of actions in process prefigure the immersive immensity of the final product.

 

Feats of vision, engineering, and persistence

The cat is out of the bag, and I am more at liberty to speak about developments with EMRCA, and the broader plans of Thomas Krens for what I call the “trainsformation” of downtown North Adams.  Recently EMRCA senior project director Ben Sosne made a public presentation to the city’s Redevelopment Authority, and I am fresh off an informative conversation with my old friend Tom, so there is news to report.

The biggest change of plan from the original concept, which connects all the others, is in the location and footprint of the “Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture” museum.  Rather than expand and retrofit the current Heritage Park building (as seen above, in header and top-links that are now obsolete), it was ultimately found to be more functional and economical to site a new, larger, purpose-built facility just the other side of the Route 8 overpass.

The existing Heritage Park buildings are to be adapted into a “Museum of Time” and a showplace distillery, as well as retail and dining spaces, which I describe briefly in my “Year-end updatejust below.  The new EMRCA will rise on what is essentially a vacant parcel (shuttered Sons of Italy building), with its own direct access to Route 8 and room for ample parking.  This location will tie in directly with the already-underway Hoosic River Revival project for adjacent green space (don’t miss this well-made 7-minute video on the river project).

I’ll be back soon with more detailed and illustrated information on the expanded and altered plans, all predicated on private investment and not public spending.  Here I offer only a foretaste, along with some history derived from a new book called Builders of the Hoosac Tunnel, and a preview glimpse of Gulliver’s Gate, the impressive model train layout that will open officially next month in Times Square.

A less public meeting is scheduled in New York on May 2, at which Thomas Krens will present his grander re-imagining of North Adams, on a panel with former Massachusetts governor William Weld, who is generating support and financing for the project; Dr. Gray Ellrodt, Chief of Medicine at Berkshire Health Systems, who has done a meticulous study of public health benefits that could derive from the development; Stephen Sheppard, a Williams College economics professor who has modeled the economic benefits, and North Adams mayor Richard Alcombright, who has offered consistent support to an innovative vision for his city.

From recent conversations with Tom, here’s what I can relate of the thinking behind his still-evolving vision to combine entrepreneurial energy with social responsibility.  While at EMRCA offices in Heritage Park the new model train museum takes tangible shape in a large-scale highly-detailed model, and both the railroad and architecture components of the museum are subject to careful curatorial consideration, and both full-scale demonstration models and technical proving tracks are under construction, the most dazzling display of all depicts Tom’s transformative vision for North Adams.

With a plausible best case scenario of a million visitors per year for the model train/architecture museum attraction, Tom began to think about what would be required in terms of city infrastructure and support (and economic opportunity!), and was led by the logic of his conception to reconsider the entire ill-judged “urban renewal” project of the 1950s, which tore down one side of North Adams’ Main Street, and left an undistinguished and now mostly vacant strip mall, around a sea of unused parking spaces.

So now he has ambitious plans to tear down most of those underused buildings and replace them with a variety of world-class amenities, including two more museums (prospectively, one for American art, and a permanent Art of the Motorcycle museum to build upon Tom’s most successful exhibition in his two decades as director of the Guggenheim Museum worldwide).

Besides a “Central Park” (where paved parking is now) and revitalized Mohawk Theater (possibly suggested by San Francisco’s SoundBox), the proposed flagship of the whole development is a luxury architecture-themed hotel, with spa and wellness center.  Several noted architects are actively engaged in discussions about various aspects of the overall project, including Richard Gluckman, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry.

Again, this is just a preview glimpse of the exciting developments that might be in store for North Adams.  As detailed renderings become available to the public, I’ll be back with updates.

In one of our prior chats, Tom was so enthusiastic about a new book that he was reading, about the history of North Adams, that I purchased a copy for myself, and read the massive tome from cover to cover.

Author Cliff Schexnayder is an engineer, and that is both virtue and liability of Builders of the Hoosac Tunnel.  His aim is certainly to lionize the engineers whose skill and persistence accomplished the feat of tunneling six miles through Hoosac Mountain, to create a direct rail connection between Boston and Albany.  In the post-Civil War era, that became the engine of North Adams economic development, and is still in use today, in fact running right alongside the EMRCA site.  The Hoosac Tunnel can reasonably be described as the greatest feat of engineering in America before the Brooklyn Bridge.

Schexnayder takes a panoptic view that results in a weighty volume that is almost an engineering exercise to read.  He begins way before the beginning, with the history of the Mohawk Trail as a Native American trading route.  And in the process celebrates the entire development of civil engineering in the United States, from the Revolution through the Civil War and beyond, in telling the stories of the five engineers cited on the book jacket: Baldwin, Crocker, Haupt, Doane, and Shanley.

It certainly took the expertise and energy of these five to complete the difficult, decades-long project, and it’s great to have their stories told (though perhaps we do not require a full genealogy for each).  The book gives a powerful new dimension to the phrase “light at the end of the tunnel.” There’s no question that the engineering feat is a marvel, and integral to the identity of North Adams.  As a saga of physical and economic obstacles encountered and tunneled through, it serves as a tremendous inspiration to Tom’s own massive project, and the energy and persistence it will require.

But there is evidence that it can be done, and could be a tremendous draw.  I will save my fully illustrated “X-RR excursion” to Gulliver’s Gate till after it is officially open, but being in the vicinity of Times Square, I took advantage of the opportunity to preview the work in progress.  It is simultaneously proof of concept for EMRCA, and no competition at all.

Of the comparables I’ve already written about on this blog, Gulliver’s Gate is clearly modeled on the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany, and is likely to vie with that attraction for the title of world’s best model train display, at least until EMRCA opens.  GG’s modelmaking is certainly up to the level of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, but lacks the narrative that “The Great Train Story” conveys.  The finish and coherence of the architectural models certainly exceeds that of Northlandz in Flemington, NJ, but there is much less emphasis on the trains themselves, and the spectacular array of bridges and trestles that Northlandz features in its larger, multilevel display.

I won’t make any definitive judgment till I see the finished product, but Gulliver’s Gate is an instructive comparison even in its unfinished state.  Clearly, it is intended as a tourist attraction in every sense of the word, from its location to its themes and overall aesthetic.  Spanning the whole world, the display congregates the top tourist attractions of each area – Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Russia, and New York City itself.  And the modelmaking was contracted out to artisans in the various areas, and then brought together for the not-quite-complete installation, in what I understand used to be the newsroom of the old New York Times building.

The display and supporting spaces are well thought-through, and the attraction is very heavily staffed.  There is definitely something to appeal to all ages and all interests, with enough detail and interaction to warrant an extended visit.  Pending its completion and official opening, I won’t get into specifics, but there is certainly a lot to see and do, and I predict success for the enterprise.

Nonetheless, a different level of scale, detail, and artistry should make EMRCA something else altogether.  Start with one word, or rather one letter – O, as in O-gauge, which will make EMRCA stand alone from the get-go.  The scale of O-gauge is 1:48, while the much more common HO-gauge is 1:87.  Twice as big may not sound like all that much, but believe me, in three dimensions the difference is huge, the difference between toy trains and immaculately-crafted works of kinetic art.

Gulliver’s Gate does a pretty good job of distributing its displays through several rooms and around supporting pillars, under an office-height ceiling.  But it will pale in comparison to EMRCA’s huge, open, cathedral-like space, yielding an unparalleled immersive experience.  Comparative models of One World Trade Center make a good example: in GG just the base of the building is represented as wrapped around a pillar, while in EMRCA it will soar nearly to the top of the forty-foot ceiling.

Though there is virtue in the variety of styles that GG presents, I believe it will be Tom’s overall vision that will make EMRCA a unique experience, a gesamkunstwerk as it were, a total art work, in a way that a piecemeal, touristic approach can’t match.

So by all means, go visit Gulliver’s Gate if that sort of thing appeals to you, but just you wait, just you wait, for your pilgrimage to the worldwide Mecca of Extreme Railroading (though admittedly, GG has quite a fascinating representation of the Hajj).

North Adams, get ready for your moment as a global destination.

 

 

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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