Dasha Zhukova Launches Ray, an Art-Centric Real Estate Venture

The art patron and philanthropist will open two residential buildings in New York and Philadelphia that prioritize cultural experiences.

Rendering of Ray Harlem site, including the planned new facade of the National Black Theatre. Photo courtesy of Luxigon

Shortly after Dasha Zhukova co-founded Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and enlisted OMA’s Rem Koolhaas to convert an abandoned Soviet-era restaurant into the institution’s new venue, she observed that visitors were “staying and hanging out” because they simply wanted to be surrounded by art and culture. Fast forward a decade, and the art patron and philanthropist is applying that logic to the multi-unit residential market by launching Ray, a new venture that aims to bring art, culture, and thoughtful design to real estate.

Ray’s inaugural project, a conversion of Harlem’s historic National Black Theatre into a 21-story building by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, will feature a roster of perks such as master classes, events, and workshops from local artists and institutions; each of the 222 units will be at or below market rate. That’ll be followed by a new 110-unit building by Leong Leong in Philadelphia’s rising Fishtown neighborhood, which will be outfitted with street-level artist studios and maker spaces. 

“We’re looking for creative solutions,” the design gallerist Suzanne Demisch, who joined Ray with Becca Goldstein and Will Kluczkowski, tells WSJ. “We’re asking why. There’s not a package for all the touchpoints of the experience—it’s about the aesthetic and the culture of each location.” Zhukova already has ambitious expansion plans: a third building is underway in Miami, and she’s currently eyeing cities such as Austin, Nashville, Denver, and Portland as Ray’s next frontier.

Rendering of communal space in Ray Fishtown building. Photo courtesy of Luxigon
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