Aleksei Shchusev

Shchusev, Aleksei Viktorovich

 

Born Sept. 26 (Oct. 8), 1873, in Kishinev; died May 24, 1949, in Moscow. Soviet architect. Honored architect of the USSR (1930); academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1943).

Shchusev studied with L. N. Benois at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1891 to 1897; he became an academician in 1910. He was director of the Tret’iakov Gallery from 1926 to 1929. Shchusev established the Museum of Architecture in Moscow in 1946 and served as its director until 1949. He taught at the Stroganov Industrial Arts School from 1913 to 1918, the State Higher Arts and Technical Studios from 1920 to 1924, and the Moscow Architectural Institute in 1948 and 1949.

Shchusev’s early projects were restorations of ancient Russian architecture: reconstruction of the 12th-century Church of St. Basil in Ovruch, the Marfa-Mar’ia Cloister (1980–12), and the Kazan Railroad Station in Moscow (begun 1914). His work was particularly diverse in Soviet times. He participated in the plans for rebuilding Moscow (1918–25) and served as chief architect for the All-Russian Agricultural and Domestic Industrial Exhibition in Moscow (1922–23). His work of the 1920’s showed some influence of constructivism, as seen in the Research Institute of Health Resort Science and Physical Therapy in Sochi (1927–31) and the building of the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture in Moscow (1928–33, today the Ministry of Agriculture).

Shchusev’s greatest achievement is the V. I. Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow. The mausoleum was designed in a very short period of time, and construction of a wooden structure was completed in 1924. In 1930 the wooden structure was replaced by a monumental granite structure of similar design. (Shchusev’s concept was realized, under his direction, by the architects Iu. A. Dul’gier, L. B. Karlik, V. A. Mikhailov, A. K. Rostkovskii, I. A. Frant-suz, and G. K. Iakovlev.) Only a limited part of the architectural complex of Red Square, the mausoleum is not only a very impressive memorial structure but also serves as a reviewing stand for parades, as if emphasizing the majesty of Lenin’s ideas.

Shchusev’s work in the 1930’s and 1940’s shows a desire to develop the progressive traditions of past architecture. He used elements of classical architecture in construction of the Hotel Moskva (1932–38, with others), the Moskvoretskii Bridge (1936–38), and an administrative building on Dzerzhinskii Square in Moscow (1946). Shchusev used themes of Georgian national architecture in the design of the branch of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the CPSU in Tbilisi (1938). He used Uzbek traditions in the A. Navoi Bol’shoi Opera and Ballet Theater in Tashkent (1938–17). Elements of 17th-century Russian architecture can be seen in the design of the Komsomol’skaia-Kol’tsevaia Subway Station (opened 1952) in Moscow. City planning projects occupy an important place in Shchusev’s work, including plans for rebuilding the following cities destroyed during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45: Istra (1942–43), Novgorod (1943–45), and Kishinev (1947).

Shchusev wrote more than 200 scholarly works and articles dealing with a broad range of architectural problems. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR four times—in 1941, 1946, 1948, and 1952. He also received the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.

REFERENCES

Proizvedeniia A. V. Shchuseva [album]. Moscow, 1954.
Druzhinina-Georgievskaia, E. V., and Ia. A. Kornfel’d. Zodchii A. V. Shchusev. Moscow, 1955. (Contains a bibliography.)
Afanas’ev, K. N. A. V. Shchusev. Moscow, 1978.

K. N. AFANAS’EV