RAIR formed when three individuals from different backgrounds realized they were passionate about the same thing: the value of waste.
Avi Golen, co-owner of Revolution Recovery and an expert in the recycling industry, had been fielding request from artists since the founding of his company in 2004. Billy Blaise Dufala, a Philadelphia-based artist and co-teacher of a found materials course at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, had been looking for access to a material stream for his work. Fern Gookin, project manager at Revolution Recovery and Board of Directors member of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, had decided to focus her graduate thesis work on the role art can play in creating awareness about sustainability issues. With three different perspectives and a shared goal, RAIR has been able to establish itself as a specialized and unique program that reaches across disciplines.
In 2009 RAIR received funding from the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts Culture and Creative Economy to begin piloting the residency program and building a studio. Over the next few years dozens of artists participated in the pilot programs and helped RAIR gear up for their opening to the public in 2014.