North Adams Central Park: MASS ART for MASS MoCA

North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA. Historically, North Adams was a mill town located in a stunning valley, surrounded by 3,000 foot mountains. North Adams is a confluence of beautiful outdoor recreational amenities such as the Mohawk and Appalachian Trails.

Due to loss of its manufacturing industries, its population has dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 12,000 today. 18.9% of the population lives in poverty. It is the least populous city in the state.  It is also, perhaps, the only city in the state with no downtown park. The tiny city is an anomaly, as it is also known as the home of the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, MASS MoCA, which has become a center for tourism, culture and recreation.

Although some new businesses have recently been established, the visual impact of blighted urban conditions upon entry to the city presents a major obstacle to improving resident’s lives, retaining population, and attracting an economy

The studio’s task will be to reshape the landscape of North Adam’s central urban core in response to their STRATEGIC REDEVELOPMENT PLAN of 2014. The plan’s uppermost agenda is, “to attract people to visit, work and live in North Adams through rebranding and marketing the city”.

The city’s Mayor, Tom Bernard, aspires to use the urban landscape to weave together the prominent “threads” of North Adams to rejuvenate the city.  The “threads” include the aspirations of North Adams’ inhabitants, the art culture generated by MASS MoCA, the state’s Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and the creation of connectivity to the recreational opportunities afforded by the beautiful natural surroundings.

Studio Structure:
Phase I: Research on Climate Change & Social Equity and the development of Landscape-Based Response Strategies
Phase II: Landscape Masterplan

Phase III: Design of Central Art-Park

Phase IV: Metric Evaluation

In Cooperation with Tom Bernard, Mayor of North Adams; Joe Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA; Bob O’ Connor, Director of Conservation Services, MA Executive Office of Conservations & Environmental Affairs; and David Bloniarz, Biological Scientist, University of Massachusetts, U.S. Forest Service.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule.

Studio sessions will take place weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with Skype sessions and instruction by Teaching Associate Edith Katz on the following dates: September 12-13, 26-27, November 14-15. A site visit to North Adams, MA is scheduled the week of September 16.