As part of Azerbaijan’s strategy to enhance its cultural infrastructure, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree in December 2006 pledging to design, construct, and program several new museums.  In July 2008 GCAM entered its first Concept Development Study Agreement, with the Azerbaijani government’s State Committee for the Management of State Property, for a new international museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Baku.  Jean Nouvel was engaged to design a highly functional and aesthetically innovative museum complex of approximately 41,600 square meters.

The project expanded into a Cultural District Master Plan.  For this purpose, GCAM engaged EDAW, a leading international urban design firm that specializes in master planning of sustainable cultural districts in harmony with their environments.  The GCAM/EDAW team linked the museum site to the city by extending its Corniche to the end of the Bailov peninsula.  In addition, the GCAM/EDAW team proposed the creation of a “cultural archipelago,” a series of islands that would connect both ends of the Bay of Baku and aid in the clean-up of the city’s coastline.

The art and exhibition program developed by GCAM had a very specific local focus with a Center for Art of the Caucuses, a Center for Contemporary Art of Azerbaijan, an Interactive Media Center to be programmed through a partnership with ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, and a Global Center for Contemporary Art.