Currently Reading

Mass MoCA Building 6: The Robert W. Wilson Building

Reconstruction Awards

Mass MoCA Building 6: The Robert W. Wilson Building

A textile mill becomes an arts center that energizes a New England town and its region.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | November 16, 2018
Mass Moca Building 6 exterior

The renovation of MASS MoCA Building 6 provides the scale required for the installation of massive art pieces and sufficient room for visitors to view them properly. Photo: Michael Moran Photography.

The Arnold Print works, a textile-dyeing mill in North Adams, Mass., dates to the 1860s. In 1942, it was converted to make electrical parts for the war effort. It closed in 1986.

In the late ’80s, community leaders reimagined the 17-acre campus as a showcase for large-scale minimalist art. Building 6 is the final piece of a 25-year, three-phase master plan funded by public and private capital. Its chief goal: to make MASS MoCA and western Massachusetts a multi-day visitor destination.

The Building 6 project team, led by Bruner/Cott Architects, connected three acre-size floors via a new three-story lightwell that serves as the primary circulation core. A series of controlled-environment galleries set against an industrial landscape interior supports the client’s goal of merging the old and the new.

At Building 6’s apex, the project team created a lounge with two-story glazing that looks out onto the Berkshires. A bikeway that runs through the lower level of the museum connects to five miles of hiking trails and bicycle lanes that link North Adams and Williamstown. The ground floor doubles as a workshop and storage space.

MASS MoCA has become a major anchor of the economy of North Adams (population: 13,708). It now offers 280,000 sf of galleries, indoor and outdoor performing arts venues, video and multimedia spaces, commercial rental units, cafés, a full-service restaurant, and an innovative microbrewery.

The museum employs 500, admits 185,000 visitors a year, and hosts more than 75 performances a year, notably the FreshGrass bluegrass festival.

Mass MoCA is now the country’s largest center for contemporary and visual arts, and one of only a handful that can accommodate installations of immense scale.


MaasPhoto: Michael Moran Photography.


Gold Award Winner

BUILDING TEAM Bruner/Cott Architects (submitting firm, architect) Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (owner) Arup (SE) Petersen Engineering (mechanical engineer) Sullivan Engineering (electrical/plumbing engineer) Gilbane Building Company (CM) DETAILS 130,000 sf Total cost $65.4 million Construction time January 2016 to May 2017 Delivery method CM at risk



Related Stories

Government Buildings | Jan 9, 2023

Blackstone, Starwood among real estate giants urging President Biden to repurpose unused federal office space for housing

The Real Estate Roundtable, a group including major real estate firms such as Brookfield Properties, Blackstone, Empire State Realty Trust, Starwood Capital, as well as multiple major banks and CRE professional organizations, recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden on the implications of remote work within the federal government.

Giants 400 | Aug 11, 2021

BD+C Awards Programs

Entry information and past winners for Building Design+Construction's two major awards programs: 40 Under 40 and Giants 400

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

Call for entries: 2021 Reconstruction Awards

The 2021 Reconstruction Awards recognize the best reconstructed, renovated, or remodeled projects, based on overall design, engineering, and construction project quality. Entries are due July 16, 2021. 

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

2021 Reconstruction Awards Entry Information

Only projects completed or occupied between January 1, 2020 and July 16, 2021 are eligible.

Reconstruction Awards | Mar 12, 2021

2021 Reconstruction Awards 'How to Win' Tip Sheet

Keep this tip sheet handy when preparing your Reconstruction Awards entry, as these are some items on which your project will be judged.

Reconstruction Awards | Feb 5, 2021

The historic Maryland Theatre is reborn in Hagerstown

The Maryland Theatre project has won a Bronze Award in BD+C's 2020 Reconstruction Awards.

Reconstruction Awards | Jan 30, 2021

Repositioning of historic Sears Roebuck warehouse enlivens Boston’s Fenway neighborhood

Developer Samuels & Associates asked Elkus Manfredi Architects to reimagine the former Sears Roebuck & Co. warehouse in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood as a dynamic mixed-use destination that complements the high-energy Fenway neighborhood while honoring the building’s historical significance.


More In Category

Giants 400

BD+C Awards Programs

Entry information and past winners for Building Design+Construction's two major awards programs: 40 Under 40 and Giants 400


Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021