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Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is among the largest contemporary art museums in the United States and a pioneering adaptive reuse project. The 17-acre, 28-building, 19th century mill complex, once the home of Sprague Electric and Arnold Print Works, has been preserved and transformed over three phases. The architecture of the museum builds on historically important buildings to challenge basic assumptions about architecture and the display of art. MASS MoCA blurs the line between the visual and performing arts and between the finished object and its creation.

North Adams, MA Completed: 1999 125,000 sf
Photography by © Peter Vanderwarker, © Robert Polidori, © Douglas Mason

Initial transformation of the site’s former factories followed the master plan developed by Bruner/Cott, beginning with extensive demolition and hazardous materials abatement to reclaim the former brownfield site. Adapting the program to the buildings to preserve their texture and scale, the existing structures generated spaces that challenged conventional notions of what a museum should look like, do and be, serving as a catalyst for widespread rethinking of this building type.

The massiveness of both the buildings and the complex, with its interlocking courtyards, bridges and walkways, offered the opportunity to experiment with open spaces, structural elements and connections. The result is a transparency that encourages experimentation and collaboration within the framework of a place known for centuries as a center for innovation.


  • 2000 National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Honor Award
  • 1999 BSA Honor Award for Design Excellence in Adaptive Reuse
  • 2000 National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Honor Award
  • 2000 MHC Preservation Award
  • 2000 Historic Massachusetts, Eliot Award for Historic Preservation
  • 2000 AIA National Honor Award for Design

More of Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA Building 6

Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA Building 7