Back in 2008, Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich hired starchitect Rem Koolhaas and founded a new contemporary art museum in Moscow called the Garage Museum. Supposedly this was the first philanthropic institution in Russia dedicated solely to contemporary art. (Here’s a short video in case you’re curious what it looks like.) After it opened, the founders apparently had a realization about the way people like to consume art. Yes, people like to look at art and ponder deep things. But it turns out that people also like just being around art and other art-like things. People started coming to the Garage Museum not only to view the various exhibitions, but also to just hang out.
This insight is now being used to inform a new real estate development company, also by Dasha, called Ray. The mission of the company is to create “architecturally-inspired homes at the intersection of art, culture, and community.” Their first two projects are in Harlem and Fishtown, Philadelphia, but apparently they have something cooking in Miami as well. What Ray hopes to do is integrate art and culture in a more meaningful way through cultural programming, exhibitions in their buildings, artist studio spaces, and other creative ideas.
There’s also an affordable housing angle. According to the WSJ, Ray’s Harlem project is a joint venture with L+M Development Partners. I don’t know any of the specifics of this deal, but I know L+M, because one of their founding partners, Ron Moelis, was a professor of mine in graduate school. L+M is focused on affordable and mixed-income housing and uses tools like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to make these sorts of projects financially feasible. They aren’t, otherwise. I learned all about them in school and I always found it to be a great way to get the private sector building affordable housing.
“Art and culture, community, and accessible pricing.”