An Important New Residential Building in Philly — With Plans for Other Locales — Focuses On Community and the Arts

If you’re an artist who’s tired of schlepping to your studio, why not move into this new Philadelphia residential building — designed by architecture firm Leong Leong — rent one of the six studios available downstairs, and shorten your commute to a mere elevator ride? Called Ray, the building is part of a new initiative by Garage magazine founder Dasha Zhukova to, as the building’s founders put it, “make art and design a part of everyday life.” Along with the ground-floor studios, which open up to the street and invite passersby in via rolling garage doors, Ray Philly also features public spaces for arts-related programming and a free communal art studio for all residents of its ​​110 apartments. The building is located in the Olde Kensington neighborhood, close to hipster hotspot Northern Liberties and artsy Fishtown, and has a long list of other amenities including a co-working lounge, a gym and yoga studio, a fully outfitted communal kitchen, and a lobby with a sunken living room featuring an installation by Rashid Johnson. Interiors feature glass-block walls and terracotta floor tiles, while the apartments boast huge windows and blonde oak floors — all intended to satisfy even the most picky aesthetes.

It’s hard to pick a favorite aspect of the interior — the red-framed windows, stainless steel kitchen hood, Bruno Rey chairs, and teeny tiny Flowerpot lamps all work to create a vibe that’s more Northern Europe than Northeast Corridor — but it might be the installation by Philly artist Marian Bailey, which grounds the lobby firmly in both in Philly and in America at large. Called Find What Grounds You, it consists of three hanging fabric panels that depict a dark-skinned black women amongst foliage; in it, “Bailey considers how the very act of existing in space can at times be taken as confrontational or aggressive, which is a notion their work is actively trying to combat. For their installation at Ray, the image they’ve constructed is one which reflects an air of tranquility and belonging — a dignified serenity that comes from taking up space and inviting others to do the same.”

A Ray is currently under construction in Harlem as well, this one created in conjunction with the National Black Theatre, with the architecture led by Frida Escabedo, and interiors by Handel Architects and Little Wing Lee Studio & Projects. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this brand.