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Abramovich Partner Zhukova Shows Koolhaas Gallery Plans

Dasha Zhukova
Dasha Zhukova, founder of the non-profit Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow and partner of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Zhukova has hired architect Rem Koolhaas for the design of Garage's new art space, a former 1960s restaurant in Gorky Park. Source: Bolton & Quinn via Bloomberg

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Rem Koolhaas, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, today presented his plans to convert an abandoned Moscow restaurant into a new art space for the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, founded by Dasha Zhukova.

Zhukova -- whose partner is the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich -- founded Garage as a contemporary-art nonprofit organization in Moscow in 2008. Earlier this year, Garage left its base in the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage for Moscow’s Gorky Park, where the ruined 1960s restaurant, a modernist structure of prefabricated concrete, is located.

Koolhaas said the project fit in with the “polemic” started by his architecture practice OMA on the theme of art institutions “getting bigger and bigger.”

“Scale is not necessarily productive for art,” said Koolhaas in a presentation held at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. “If you look at the Serpentine Gallery, small can work extremely well.”

Koolhaas said the once-popular restaurant, where he himself sampled “Soviet” food back in the day, was now “a ruin, but not a very old ruin.” The site was “incredibly polluted,” and he was “shocked by the amount of neglect.”

Beauty of Decay

“Neglect is quite picturesque and offers insights into the beauty of decay,” he said, pointing out that he planned to keep the original tiles, decoration and other “traces of Russia’s recent history” and push for the “rescue” of other buildings from the Sixties and Seventies around the world.

Zhukova, who co-hosted the news conference, said she had been seeking a more central location for Garage. The Koolhaas project, she said, “defines Russian identity: We’re taking the past and not ignoring it, and creating a new future.”

Koolhaas was her choice, she said, because “I like the way he thinks.” She wouldn’t give figures on the cost of the conversion.

The space, due to finish next year, will have flexible exhibition galleries on two levels as well as a cafe, shop, auditorium and education center.

Asked which artists she wanted to show in the gallery, Zhukova said her “dream” would be to exhibit the work of sculptor Richard Serra.

Also working on the project at the Vremena Goda (“Seasons of the Year”) restaurant is the young Russian practice Form Bureau.

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundborg’s NYC Weekend and Greg Evans on movies.

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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