In the summer of 2015, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art moved to its first permanent home, the former Vremena Goda restaurant in Gorky Park designed by Igor Vinogradsky in 1968.

Architect Rem Koolhaas and OMA took a pioneering approach to the renovation of the building by making very little visible intervention into the original concrete structure, as well as preserving a number of Soviet-era elements such as mosaics and brickwork that have, until now, been accorded little architectural value or historic relevance. For Koolhaas, the preservation of such quotidian elements, together with the minimal approach to construction, avoids what he calls “the exaggeration of standards and scale” that he considers as ubiquitous in new art spaces around the world. For Garage, the architect’s approach has not only provided a unique museum space for the 21st century but also the opportunity to develop a program of events and exhibitions that enable a rethinking and unearthing of the experience of Soviet Modernist architecture and culture in an international context.

The Museum’s new initiative included a number of projects with artists, historians, architects, and curators that provided various points of view of the cultural heritage of the Soviet epoch, which were nevertheless united by an attitude to this heritage as a living entity and a relevant phenomenon.

The most extensive program was a three-year exploration of Soviet Modernist architecture and urban planning led by Georg Schöllhammer, Garage International Advisor, launched during the two-day international conference, A Long, Happy Life (October 30–31).

The conference explored Soviet Modernist architecture, urban studies, and the history of urban planning. This focus remains relevant today not only because we continue to live in the post-Soviet urban space but also because the distance separating us from Soviet Modernist architecture’s key achievements is sufficient for the scientific study of this complex, synthetic phenomenon, inseparable from the socio-political context.