The beautiful rolling landscape of Northwestern Massachusetts has been the home to important academic institutions for over 100 years. But in the past thirty years it has also become the home of major art museums, including Williams College Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and, just down the road, the Clark Art Institute.
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Renovation transforms decommissioned McKim Mead & White building into campus event space.
When Amherst College decided to convert a former steam plant into a student event space, the choice likely struck some observers as odd. Designed in 1925 by McKim, Mead & White, the coal-burning plant was decommissioned in the 1960s; since the 1980s, it had been used as a makeshift garage for ground equipment. The facade of the neglected building needed to be opened up to reveal its potential while respecting its good bones. “It wasn’t in great shape, but it wasn’t in terrible shape,” said Bruner/Cott‘s Dana Kelly. “Impressively enough, the school recognized that it had qualities that could be harnessed for a new student space.” The brick building’s industrial aesthetic was a particular draw, said Kelly, whose firm has spearheaded renovations at the nearby MASS MoCA (itself a former industrial complex) since the museum opened in 1999. For Amherst College, Bruner/Cott took a similar approach, balancing preservation and alteration to support the new program without disrupting the historic building’s essential character.
MASS MoCA’s rambling campus in the former factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts, has been 25 years in the making, and is now entering its third phase of development, starting with the rehabilitation of Building Six, a 120,000-square-foot space that’s able to be flexibly programmed to create “Museums within the Museum.”
Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil
87 Marshall St., North Adams, MA
Through September 1, 2014
Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil is a survey of the Israeli-born, New York-based artist. Grand, labyrinthine, yet intimate, the exhibition occupies the entirety of MASS MoCA’s largest gallery. The works on display are rich with personal narrative, political metaphor, and myth, highlighting the many formal innovations Patkin has pioneered in the course of his 30-year career. The show’s centerpiece is a cycle of spectacular mural-size paintings on tulle fabric that are making their U.S. debut. Entitled “Veiled Threats,” the cycle was inspired by the late Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali’s writings on memory, loss, love, and exile. Co-organized by MASS MoCA, The Wandering Veil is coming to Massachusetts from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Tefen Open Museum in Israel, where it premiered last year.
Mies van der Rohe has suffered some indignities lately, with a building at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology knocked down and plastic palms taking root at the Dirksen Federal Building. Now comes Madrid-born artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s latest work, Gravity Is a Force to be Reckoned With, which realizes one of the master’s unbuilt projects—albeit upside-down. Read More