In 1923, the Russian architect Ivan Zholtovsky designed a curious exhibition hall in Moscow’s Gorky Park that, from a birds-eye view, resembles a hexagonal asterisk. In the years since then, the structure, now aptly called the Hexagon, has been through the ringer: it became a cafe, restaurant, and discotheque before being abandoned after suffering a number of fires. Despite its state of neglect, the Hexagon was declared a landmark by Moscow’s government in 1999.
Then, in 2013, Garage Museum founders Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova purchased the Hexagon and now plan to transform it into an expansion for the museum, which moved from its original home inside a former Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage to the storied Soviet Modernist Vremena Goda restaurant building, also located in Gorky Park, in 2015. The site is fitting for a world-class art institution: six soaring gabled halls face one another to enclose a central courtyard surrounded by greenery. Zhukova hopes for the expansion to “reflect our ongoing inquiry into the function, purpose, and responsibility of the modern-day museum.”
The structure will undergo a dramatic renovation at the hands of Pritzker Prize winners Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, who plan to restore the structure’s conjoined halls, replace its rotted timber peers, and maximize daylight. When complete, in 2026, the revamped structure will afford the museum 100,000 additional square feet of gallery space, a cafe, library, bookshop, and spaces for research and performance. “The scale, geometry, and proportions of the original building are very impressive and beautiful,” SANAA told Artnet News. “Its composition and organization are clear, so the building appears like a classical building but also feels very modern. We wanted to find a way to respect this original design while finding a new way for the people to use this new public building.”