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Clark Art Institute and Northern Berkshire Health Systems in Discussion on Future of Route 7 Site Overlooking Mount Greylock

For Immediate Release

February 18, 2003

Goal is for NBHS to build Independent Living Units at Sweetwood and the Clark to Establish Second Campus Housing Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Gallery, Meeting Space Studio Art Classroom, and Art Storage 

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (February 18, 2003) -The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and Northern Berkshire Health Systems (NBHS) announced today that they are in discussion regarding the joint development of two parcels of land owned by NBHS on Route 7 between Mount Greylock Regional High School and the Sweetwood Continuing Care Retirement Community.  The parcels include the hill known as "Phelp's Knoll," which affords spectacular views to the east of Mt. Greylock and "the Hopper," south to the Route 7 valley and west to the Taconic Range. 

NBHS, the parent corporation of Sweetwood, is exploring options that would allow the creation of independent and assisted living space on the site.  The Clark envisions a second campus for the Institute in Williamstown. 

The Clark would build a new home for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) in a structure that would also provide gallery space, a studio art classroom, a meeting room for the Clark and the community, as well as art storage space and related support functions. The Clark's plans may also include a café and Visitor Orientation Center providing information to tourists on the cultural and natural resource opportunities of Northern Berkshire County and Southern Vermont. The proximity of the site to Sweetwood and Mt. Greylock High School affords great possibility for partnering with those institutions and others from the community, as well as the many visitors who come to the Berkshires from all over the world.

"We are making this special investment in the community for a variety of reasons, most important of which is the preservation and accessibility of the natural resources that make the Northern Berkshires a great place to live and work," said Clark director Michael Conforti.  "We have made a decision to move some our facilities to another site to preserve the park-like atmosphere of our Stone Hill campus on South Street," Conforti continued. "While we are still evaluating other locations the Phelp's Knoll site is our preferred one."

"I am delighted to be in these discussions with the Clark", said NBHS chief executive officer John Cronin.  "It is a unique opportunity for two strong regional institutions to come together in a creative partnership that strengthens our core values of improving the quality of life here in the Northern Berkshires. The Clark is an ideal partner for us as we contemplate the potential use of this site as it relates to expanding our health care mission.  Although we are still at the master planning stage, I am optimistic that we will arrive at a plan that meets some of the need for assisted and independent living arrangements."

"Our principal need is for new space for additional storage as well as laboratories for the extraordinary regional resource that is the Williamstown Art Conservation Center" said Conforti. "Given the location of Phelp's Knoll and its magnificent views of Mount Greylock and the Taconic Range, we are considering expanding our base program to include a public component of a gallery, a studio art classroom, and a meeting room usable by the Clark and the community, and possibly a Visitor Orientation Center. These public programs combined with a café and picnic area for residents and visitors will make the site a special one, a new gateway to the wonderful sites of the Northern Berkshires. With seventy percent of the region's visitors entering the area through the Route 7 corridor, this location provides a unique opportunity as the Clark has a strong commitment to the promotion of regional tourism to stabilize its economy."

The Clark has been working with Pritzker-Prize winning architect Tadao Ando on a plan to enhance its home campus on South Street by expanding its facilities, enhancing the natural landscape, and improving the way its buildings and landscape relate to one another.

"In order to achieve these goals, it became clear that the creation of a second campus was necessary," said Clark deputy director Tony King.  "With this move we will be able to preserve the character and beauty of our current home by limiting the amount we are building here and its related parking. At the Phelp's Knoll site we will also be extending our role as stewards of the landscape to one of the most special views in Western Massachusetts, making the vistas of Mt. Greylock and the Hopper available to Berkshire residents and visitors in a new park like setting," King continued.

The designs for the Clark's main campus by Tadao Ando, the Japanese architect who has won great acclaim for the recently opened Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, Texas, will be unveiled in early March. Models, drawings, and detailed information about the new plans will be on public view in the Clark galleries beginning Tuesday, March 4.

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