Schusev State
Museum of Architecture

The Forge of Great Architecture. Soviet Competitions of the 1920s-1950s

November 19 – February 15, 2015
1200 23v


11.19.2014 – 02.15.2015
Enfilade of the Museum of Architecture

Curators: Irina Chepkunova, Sergei Choban


The exhibition project aims to identify the role of competitions in shaping architectural styles and changing city spaces. Even before the grand buildings of Moscow in the 1930s-1950s, it is due to competitions that architectural designs became the focus of attention of the whole country.

The curators chose seven iconic buildings of Moscow, the construction of which was preceded by large architectural competitions. Although contests were held throughout the country, the curators deliberately restricted the choice to Moscow, which has always been a major reference point and a cultural model for the entire country. The project traces the history of not only the buildings, but also of the city areas in which they were erected. The life of entire neighborhoods and areas before the moment their plans were included in the competition task, the history of the competitions themselves, the challenging ordeal of approvals, orders, revisions, and finally the construction of the buildings will be presented in seven exhibition halls in the Enfilade with materials of the museum’s funds: unique architectural graphics, models, and photographs.

One of the first competitions of the early 1920s for the Palace of Labor marked the beginning of the constructivist era in national architecture. But the palace was never built, and on the site reserved for it in Okhotny Ryad in 1930 the Hotel Moskva was built.

The competition in the mid-1920s for the design of the Moscow branch of the newspaper Leningradskaya Pravda building on a plot of 6x6 meters gave the impetus for the emergence of the avant-garde designs by Konstantin Melnikov, Ilya Golosov and the Vesnin brothers. Subsequently the size of the plot was changed and the ​​voluminous constructivist building of the Izvestia newspaper office, a project that was commissioned from Grigory Barkhin, was built on that spot.

Simultaneously with the carrying out of an open competition for the Central Telegraph building in 1925-1926, two more projects were commissioned from Ivan Rerberg and Alexey Shchusev. The clients chose Rerberg’s project – a building made out of a reinforced concrete frame with a five-sided tower and glass globe on the roof which was built in 1929.

The competition for the Lenin Library building that was announced in 1928 ended in a conversion of the constructivist design by Vladimir Schuko and Vladimir Gelfreich into the style of Art Deco.

The project of the avant-garde Theatre of Mass Action by Vsevolod Meyerhold was revised after the arrest of the director in 1939. And in 1940, the architect Dmitry Chechulin built the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on Mayakovsky Square, using in his project the already constructed foundation of the building.

The building of the Frunze Military Academy, the competition of which was won by Lev Rudnev, was designed in the Art Deco style, with sculpted reliefs and a model of a tank on a pedestal. The new building of theAcademy of Sciences was supposed to build on Krysmky Val, but after a few years the contest was canceled due to revision of the building’s purpose: in the 1960s the modernist Central House of Artists was erected by pupils of Ivan Zholtovsky’s neoclassicism.

However the architectural competitions of the Soviet era ended – whether the winning project was implemented, or shelved – their history as exemplified by seven key buildings reveals the cultural mechanisms of creative competitions, the intersection of architecture and policy, and the transformation of urban areas and sites that form the image of the capital and the style of its life.


Project partner – AFI Development specializes in large-scale development projects in Moscow and the Moscow region and is one of the leading players in the real estate market. As a subsidiary of the holding company Africa Israel Investments Ltd, AFI Development is introducing to the market international standards of development taking into account the peculiarities of the Russian construction industry.

AFI Development was established in 2001. The company's portfolio includes projects of residential, office, retail and hotel properties, with more than 600,000 sq. m of completed sites and more than 1.3 million sq. m of sites that are under development and construction.

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Media Partners:, portal of Moscow Archcouncil, Tatlin, Archplatforma, Architime, ArchiPeople, Radio Rossiya, Radio Kultura, The Art Newspaper Russia

Press accreditation and additional information:

Maria Girba +7 (495) 697 3874, 8 (967) 182 13 91,


Оценка услуг Министерство культуры Культура.рф Год театра в России 2019