69 Facts About Alexey Shchusev


Alexey Shchusev consecutively designed and built three mausoleums, two temporary and one permanent, and supervised the latter's further expansion in the 1940s.


Alexey Shchusev's career proceeded smoothly until September 1937, when, after a brief public smear campaign, Shchusev lost all his executive positions and design contracts, and was effectively banished from architectural practice.


Alexey Shchusev was born in Chisinau, as the fourth of five children in the family of a provincial civil administrator.


In 1891, Alexey Shchusev left Chisinau and enrolled at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg.


In 1896, his last year at the Imperial Academy, Alexey Shchusev studied old Northern Russian architecture in Kostroma, Rostov, and Yaroslavl; and the European architecture of Romania and Austria-Hungary.


Alexey Shchusev was appointed as a consultant to the Holy Synod, and soon had the chance to assist Mikhail Nesterov with the repairs to the poorly-built church in Abastumani.


Alexey Shchusev did not have as much luck in getting lucrative residential and government contracts; his lay buildings of the period are scarce and, as a whole, are distinctly inferior to his churches.

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Alexey Shchusev's controversial five-domed design in the Byzantine style was much debated by architects and preservationists, but was nevertheless approved for construction in 1907.


In 1905, Alexey Shchusev was commissioned to design the new cathedral at the Pochayiv Lavra.


Pokrovsky leaned to a "true" recreation of the medieval spirit, while Alexey Shchusev was more responsive to Art Nouveau influences.


In 1911, Alexey Shchusev won an invitational competition with his design of the Kazansky rail terminal in Moscow.


Alexey Shchusev decided to break the 220 meter long facade into an asymmetric row of visually separate pavilions, and to use Naryshkin Baroque styling.


Alexey Shchusev visited old towns to study their extant baroque architecture, and used the knowledge thus gained in his design for the exterior of the new building.


Painter Eugene Lanceray, one of the few reliable sources on the inner workings of the Alexey Shchusev firm, stayed with it until the end of his life.


Alexey Shchusev's firm designed adjacent service buildings and the elevated viaduct of the nearby Alekseevskaya railway line that serves as a picture frame for the terminal.


Dmitry Chmelnizki speculates that, regardless of Alexey Shchusev's conservative planning policies, he had already become "the architect closest to the Communist Party elite".


The resulting makeshift hut was too small for its intended role as a communist shrine; thus in March 1924 Alexey Shchusev was commanded to design and build a larger temporary structure that could function as a tribune for the use of government officials.


An urban legend, supported by local historian Alexey Shchusev Klimenko, asserts that the Mausoleum was designed solely by Frantsuz.


Typically for Alexey Shchusev, the approved design changed many times during construction.


Alexey Shchusev created an illusion that the Mausoleum is made of solid granite blocks, when in reality it is primarily concrete covered with thin granite panels.


Alexey Shchusev supported the new school in public, but never allied himself with constructivism sensu stricto, which comprised a small group engaged in endless rivalries with other avant-garde factions.


Alexey Shchusev expressly warned against superficial imitations of modernist ideas with inappropriate materials and for inappropriate functions.


Alexey Shchusev's first building of the constructivist period, the railway workers' club adjacent to the Kazansky terminal, was a transitional design that contravened his own warnings.


In 1925, Alexey Shchusev took part in three high-profile architectural competitions: to design the Gosprom in Kharkiv, the Central Telegraph, and the State Bank in Moscow.


All three of Alexey Shchusev's proposals were distinctly constructivist, and all three lost to other entrants.

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Grinberg stepped aside at an early stage of the project; Alexey Shchusev managed the construction personally.


Three men of Alexey Shchusev's team produced most of the drafts, but only two were credited as junior co-authors.


Finally, in 1930 Alexey Shchusev designed two constructivist hotel buildings for Intourist.


Alexey Shchusev's drafts, published in 2001, indicate that he had probably anticipated the stylistic revolution as early as 1931.


Alexey Shchusev wisely skipped the second, most publicized stage of the contest.


Alexey Shchusev was appointed the head of the 2nd State Workshop, a fairly large design firm employing dozens of professional architects and engineers.


The first part of the hotel, modified according to Alexey Shchusev's design, was opened in December 1935.


Dmitry Chechulin, Alexey Shchusev's trusted deputy at the workshop, joined the "purge frenzy", along with many of his former associates.


The new boss immediately fired those who sympathized with Alexey Shchusev, and distributed his ongoing projects to other assistants.


Alexey Shchusev disappeared from public and, according to his assistant Irina Sinyova, locked himself in his study in Moscow.


However, the designs for the main building of the academy, which Alexey Shchusev worked on until his death, remained a fruitless exercise in visionary architecture.


Dmitry Chmelnizki speculates that in the autumn of 1937 Alexey Shchusev fled Moscow for the Caucasus to appeal directly to Beria, and that Beria indeed helped the architect with the academy contract.


The connection between Beria and Alexey Shchusev was rumoured for decades.


The only certain fact is that Alexey Shchusev was a frequent guest at Beria's residence.


Shortly after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Anastas Mikoyan summoned Alexey Shchusev to fortify the Lenin Mausoleum against German airstrikes.


Alexey Shchusev decided that the task was technically impossible, and Lenin's body was evacuated to Siberia.


In May 1949, Alexey Shchusev suffered a heart attack during a brief business trip to Kyiv.


Alexey Shchusev decided to return to Moscow, and a few days later died in a hospital.


In 1948, when a new smear campaign was directed at Karo Alabyan, Boris Iofan, and Ivan Zholtovsky, Alexey Shchusev was not targeted directly; but he nevertheless temporarily lost his control over the Akademproekt.


Alexey Shchusev had to appeal directly to Stalin to have it restored.

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Alexey Shchusev disposed with his trademark asymmetry but never mastered the new visual code of "superhuman monumentality".


Rather, they marked "the highest degree of compliance with the requirements of censorship", including Alexey Shchusev occasionally acting as a censor himself.


Alexey Shchusev valued fine draftsmanship; a few well executed watercolors could guarantee an applicant a place in Alexey Shchusev's firm.


However, most of Alexey Shchusev's staff stayed with the firm for decades.


The back-and-forth, iterative cycle of sketching and drafting allowed Alexey Shchusev to explore many alternatives simultaneously, and to keep on improving the design during construction.


Alexey Shchusev's completed buildings invariably deviate from the originally approved draft.


Alexey Shchusev considered himself a builder, rather than a designer, and never hesitated to change the design, whether from his own or the client's desires.


Alexey Shchusev was equally at home dealing with Orthodox bishops, railway executives, and Bolshevik leaders.


Lazar Kaganovich privately wrote that Alexey Shchusev, "a businesslike and pragmatic eclecticist", was more valuable to the regime than the earnest, stubborn neoclassicist Ivan Zholtovsky.


Alexey Shchusev was quite effective in this role, owing to his business skill and his first-hand knowledge of the communist leaders, the NKVD chiefs in particular.


The record of Alexey Shchusev's advocacy begins with the arrest of Nesterov in 1924; a few days later, Nesterov was released and the charges against him dropped.


In 1925, Alexey Shchusev appealed for the release of muralist Vladimir Komarovsky.


However, Komarovsky and Olsufyev were killed in December 1937 and March 1938, respectively, when Alexey Shchusev himself was expecting arrest; Golitsyn perished during World War II.


Likewise, Alexey Shchusev failed to help Nesterov's son-in-law Victor Schroeter but eventually secured the release of Nesterov's daughter Olga.


Alexey Shchusev proposed relocating the national administrative center northwest, to the Khodynka Field, thus relieving the city core from the rapidly increasing congestion.


Alexey Shchusev consistently rejected large-scale, all-or-nothing redevelopment ideas, and preferred continuing to build off of the existing city.


Alexey Shchusev often clashed with the city authorities, arguing against the demolition of historic buildings.


Alexey Shchusev liked the idea of standalone high-rise buildings, as advocated by Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, but considered them too expensive for the Soviet economy and too hazardous for the existing level of technology.


Alexey Shchusev still deplored the fact that the Americans were replacing art with engineering, and warned against blind imitation of their business practices.


Alexey Shchusev's views were evolving, until the 1934 publication of the Architectural organization of the city.

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The "Alexey Shchusev wing", completed in 1936, became his last project in the Russian Revival style.


Alexey Shchusev enjoyed working full-time as a museum curator, arranging exhibitions, enforcing catalog procedures, and printing postcards.


Alexey Shchusev personally picked the former Talyzin House, then occupied by the NKVD, and used his connections within that organization to free it for the museum.


However, the main purpose of the museum, as envisaged by Alexey Shchusev himself, was the recording and archiving of Russian heritage that had been destroyed or damaged during the war.