The Daily Pic

04.27.12

A Ruin Set for Rebirth

The Daily Pic: The Garage art center in Moscow has plans for a Soviet fragment

In the 1960s, architects learned to use concrete like no one since the Romans. And all around the world, their concrete  creations have been allowed to rot – as per this image of the once-lovely and popular "Seasons of the Year" restaurant in Gorky Park in Moscow. Yet that 1968 structure is now set to have a future as well as a past.  Today in Moscow, Dasha Zhukova, founder of the city's famous Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, is announcing detailed plans for the renovation of the old park pavillion, under the guiding hand of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Until recently, Garage occupied a 1926 building on Moscow's outskirts designed by the Constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov, but in 2013 it will be moving to its renovated home downtown in Gorky Park. (The park also happens to have been planned by Melnikov.) Koolhaas says that he will be keeping much of what's left of the Soviet building – especially its late-modernist tiles, mosaics and brickwork, with what he calls their "collective aura" – but he will also be making it fit for 21st-century use. A new facade will be made from translucent plastic panels, with sliding sections that will let the park seem to enter the center. The building's interior will be divided between spaces for traditional artistic media, on the second floor, and more wide-open areas at ground level that will host performances and videos and such.

It's one thing for Americans to renew buildings from the 1960s, heyday of our Dream. In Moscow, it will be interesting to see  whether locals respond to this building's  rebirth with nostalgia for the communist past it represents, with contempt for its failures, or with hope for a future that surpercedes it. Will the new Garage in Gorky Park help preserve memories, or lay them to rest?

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