The news of this 120,000-square-foot addition, designed by Boston firm Bruner/Cott (who’ve overseen the renovation of the entire art center complex), comes on the heels of the opening of the museum’s own 10,000-square-foot gallery dedicated to the work of Anselm Kiefer and the recent renovation and expansion of The Clark Art Institute by Annabelle Selldorf and Tadao Ando—cementing this corner of the Berkshires as a significant hub for contemporary arts. Once the gallery space dubbed “Building 6” is completed, with the help of $25.4 million grant from the state and $30 million from private funding, the majority of the 600,000-square-foot MASS MoCA complex will be activated by visual and performing arts programming, rehearsal studios, fabrication space, and outdoor venues—making it one of (if not) the largest art institutions in the country.
The configuration of Building 6 will be driven by the artwork that is expected to occupy its three floors—each one of which covers an acre. The idea behind the design, explains founding principal Simeon Bruner and principal Jason Forney, is that “each artist’s work is a separate experience within an interior landscape—a museum within a museum,” with 35,000 square feet of space allocated to Turrell’s work, 20,000 square feet to Rauschenberg, and separate galleries to specifically house sounds installations from Holzer, Anderson, and Bang on a Can. The architects envision Rauschenberg’s 52-panel, quarter-mile Synapsis Shuffle “weaving through the space as a primary organizer.”
Situated where the north and south arms of the Hoosic River converge, Building 6 is accessible at two entry points: through Building 5 and along a bridge connecting to Building 8, both at the second floor which is also street level. The three floors will connect through a central, top-lit core, which will facilitate vertical circulation. The space, outfitted with nearly 1,000 windows, will feel airy and expansive, maximizing north and south light from the perimeter. The roof was replaced in 2012 and now bears a 200kW solar array.
“Building 6’s major assets are its space and extreme horizontality. So we intend to leverage that by creating long views that frame the repetition of the windows and columns, and being more spare with vertical connections,” said Bruner.
The project extends beyond the building renovation for the firm. It is also an opportunity to conceive new wayfinding connections between buildings through the creation of courtyards, light wells, and bridges. Construction is slated to begin next year, and opening is expected by 2017.