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Russia's Eiffel Tower

Author: Maria Silina
Translation: Eugenia Sokolskaya


May/June 2014
Architecture
Page 54   ( 4 pages)


Summary: An iconic radio tower in Moscow is in threat of being razed, despite what activists, international experts, or the law has to say about it.


Extract:

Imagine if Paris authorities abandoned the Eiffel Tower, squandered funds for its restoration, and then, when the situation became truly dire, proposed that it be dismantled and moved.

Sounds monstrous, no? Yet that's exactly what Russian officials want to do with Moscow's Shukhov Tower, an engineering masterpiece near historic Shabolovka Street, built in 1922 by the engineer Vladimir Shukhov.

The tower's owner, the Russian TV and Radio Network (RTRS), proposed that the tower be dismantled and moved to another, as yet unspecified, location. The tower is currently in serious need of repair – the last overhaul was completed in 1992. In 2011, budget funds were allocated for restoration work, but nothing was done.

In the waning years of the last century, the tower was still being used at full capacity, and despite its deteriorating condition, loaded down with additional satellite dishes. But in 2002 the tower was taken out of service.

 

Shukhov's tower is an engineering wonder. It required four times less metal to construct than the Eiffel Tower, its usual standard of comparison. To this day, skyscrapers, communications towers, and antennae worldwide are still being designed using the same principles: Shukhov's gridshell can be found in the British Museum's Great Court and the Smithsonian's art gallery, among many others. The tower was the first of its kind, a symbol of the excellence of twentieth century Russian engineers. Professor of architecture Natalia Dushkina credits the tower with marking “the beginning of twentieth century ‘high-tech' architecture, and laying the foundation for twenty-first century architecture.”

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