The territory given by the Moscow Government was situated close to the already built by that time Moscow Jewish Community Center. It was the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, its main garage 8500 square meters in area was built in 1927 as per the design of Konstantin Melnikov, a great Russian constructivist architect, and Vladimir Shukhov, an engineer.
The garage got its name after the street on which it was situated, former Bakhmetevskaya street, now Obraztsova street. The community received it in January 2001, two years after the transportation facilities had moved out.
By that time the building was in a miserable condition, the roof was absent in some places, chaos prevailed inside, it was typical abandoned working space.
The situation set new tasks for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia – to restore the building of the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage and to fit the museum into the historic look of the monument of the Russian Constructivism.
The Charity Fund of Arts Development and Support Iris founded by Darya Zhukova who is now the member of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center Board of Trustees was asked to carry out restoration works. Land sanitization was carried out; all necessary utility lines were conducted. The Center of Contemporary Arts Garage was opened in the new building of the former bus depot in 2008.
At the same time a closed tender for the garage building reconstruction aiming at transforming it into a modern cultural center was announced. Daniel Libeskind (the author of the projects of Jewish Museums in Berlin and San-Francisco), Diller Scofidio + Renfro Bureau (the developers of the High Line park in New York), David Chipperfield from Great Britain and other famous architects were invited to participate. Each of them saw their future collaboration with constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov differently: outbuildings, superstructures, glass shades, escalators brining visitors to new halls through the windows in the original roof, numerous complex dimensional symbols were suggested by the authors. As a result The Hettema Group won the tender organized in the beginning of 2000s in the competition between BRC Imagination Arts and Jack Rouse Assosiates. However, the next project stage was delayed, and the company started another project. The signs of the initial concept can be tracked in the existing museum layout, but the final project of the Jewish Museum resembles an attraction to a much smaller degree than that suggested by The Hettema Group.
In 2009 Graft Lab Bureau published the final project of the museum. According to it the garage remained untouched, only the floor surface was to undergo changes in order to create a complex scenario of visitors’ movement and to demonstrate different lives of Jews in Russia.
On analyzing the architects’ projects the creators of the museum concept decided that Ralph Appelbaum would supervise the realization of the concept; his company has been working on the maintenance of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center exposition for already several years.