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Clark Reports Next Steps on Master Plan for Expansion and Campus Enhancement

For Immediate Release

June 03, 2004

Following last week's announcement by the Town of Williamstown regarding discussions with Northern Berkshire Health Systems, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, and Mount Greylock Regional High School about an extension of the town's water supply, the Clark today provided a more extensive explanation of the next steps in its plan for an arts and education facility that would also house the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. The Clark continues to explore options, including wells and springs, for water sources for the site historically known as Phelps' Knoll in Williamstown. Clark officials anticipate hearing again from Williamstown representatives about the town's proposal to extend town water. The Clark has also undertaken a botanical survey for both that site and the adjoining expansion of Sweetwood Continued Care Retirement Facility. An adequate water supply and full understanding of the flora on the site are necessary steps before the Clark and NBHS can complete a purchase and sale agreement.

In addition to being open to listening to the town proposal, the Clark continues to investigate other options that may provide adequate water to the project known as Clark Greylock, including piping water to the site from the Clark's main campus on South Street. One test well on the proposed Clark Greylock site did produce water, though not enough to meet the needs of the Clark facility and the Sweetwood expansion. Given the challenges the proposed project has faced, the Clark continues to explore other alternatives for the facility, including building on its current campus. Besides the water issue, the Clark seeks a cost-effective and timely solution, one that will allow it to break ground on the facility, the important first step in its overall expansion and campus enhancement plan designed by award-winning architect Tadao Ando, in a reasonable timeframe.

"We have always hoped that, in addition to providing educational programs and a public park to the town, the proposed Clark Greylock project would improve the water situation for the high school and provide support for Sweetwood's planned expansion," said Tony King, deputy director for administration at the Clark. "We will learn more about what the town proposes as they investigate and develop a plan for this option. We will have those conversations while always keeping in mind the Clark's goal of land stewardship as well as town and Institute needs."

During the week of May 24, the Clark undertook a survey of the proposed sites for both the Sweetwood and Clark Greylock facilities. The survey, done by an independent botanist, is a follow-up to a survey taken last fall, which identified eight black maple trees on the property. Black maples are classified as "special concern" by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Because black maples are difficult to distinguish from common sugar maples, the current survey with trees in full leaf is necessary to determine whether any additional trees are on the site. The results of the new survey are not yet conclusive. As the survey progresses, the Clark will work with the NHESP to ensure that the project will not jeopardize the maples or any threatened species on the site. The eight black maples previously found are not within the planned building footprint or that of the road and would be easily avoided during construction. The Clark will announce the results of the tree survey once it is complete.

"The Clark will show the same sense of stewardship and responsibility to botanical life at the Greylock site as we have on our own South Street campus. Our master plan was always motivated by a strong desire to preserve the beautiful, park-like setting of our 140-acre campus while extending our long history of landscape stewardship to a new site for the community. It's with this in mind that we continue to work on the Clark Greylock option, but we may have to consider an alternative option on our own site." said King.

Following the resolution of these two outstanding issues, the water supply and the location of the trees, the Clark and NBHS can finalize a purchase and sale agreement for the 19-acre parcel currently owned by NBHS. The Clark hopes to break ground on a new facility, beginning to realize its master plan, sometime in 2005.

As part of its master plan for building expansion and campus enhancement, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute unveiled designs for a proposed new facility in a park-like setting with extraordinary views of Mt. Greylock. "Clark Greylock," as the proposed arts and educational center is called, would be located behind the hill known locally as Phelps' Knoll along Route 7 in Williamstown. It is the first phase of the Institute's design for its current campus on South Street at Stone Hill. The Clark has commissioned world-renowned architect Tadao Ando to design a building of wood and glass that will house exhibition galleries, studio space, public amenities, and a new home for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, and will provide additional resources for community programs and educational partnerships. The 40,000 square foot (gross) building, estimated at $17 million, would be Ando's first wood clad structure in the United States.

Clark Greylock is the second site for which the Clark has commissioned Ando, the Pritzker-Prize-winning architect whose designs for the Clark's Stone Hill campus - featuring a one-and-a-half acre reflecting pool and a 95,000 square foot addition that will include new special exhibition galleries, visitor amenities, and space for the Clark's seminal Research and Academic Program -- were unveiled in March 2003. The selection of Ando extends to the new location the Clark's long tradition of land stewardship, demonstrated by the sensitivity to nature seen in Ando's designs at Stone Hill. The design takes advantage of the beauty of Phelps Knoll and its views while respecting and celebrating the landscape.

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