Extreme Makeover

Gehry Partners to design Extreme Model Railroad Museum in Massachusetts

Architecture East News Newsletter
(Image collage by AN)
(Image collage by AN)

The proposed Extreme Model Railroad Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, will be designed by Gehry Partners and developed on a new site in the town. The original design by Gluckman Tang Architects sited in the town’s Heritage State Park will instead become a new Museum of Time based on the New York architect’s design.

The Berkshire Eagle initially revealed the appointment, and the museums have confirmed the news with The Architect’s Newspaper (AN). AN has learned that Gehry is designing the train museum, adding that the project has increased from 32,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.  In addition, the project is moving out of Heritage State Park and across the river to a different site. The projects, located on an 83,000-square-foot parcel on Christopher Columbus Drive, will be located just down the street from MASS MOCA, for which Gehry provided initial designs in 1987. Gehry has collaborated several times with the director of the new museums, Thomas Krens, former director of the Guggenheim Museum. Their most notable partnership came with the Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997.

Gluckman Tang’s designs had called for large, pitched-roofed, warehouse-like spaces marked with sawtooth skylights. Gehry’s designs are still forthcoming. 

The Architecture Museum will display large-scale art and architecture works and installations that would never fit in museums in cramped urban contexts. The Extreme Model Railroad Museum will feature scale model trains moving through architectural dioramas created by the likes of Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

According to the Eagle, the current plans will cost about $65 million, and fundraising is ongoing. Krens—always ambitious—is also proposing to build the Massachusetts Museum of Time and a distillery in the area, and he’s suggested that Jean Nouvel design the city’s master plan.

In addition, Gluckman Tang is doing a master plan for the city’s Heritage Park and designing the new Global Contemporary Art Museum on the grounds of the local airport.

William Menking contributed reporting. 

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