Looking for an example of a Constructivist building that would be clearly pre- and non-Brutalist, I’ve stumbled on a half-ruined structure remarkable for reasons not limited to architecture. Actually, it was by coincidence that I spotted it – here’s the subject seen from two different points:

Here’s an excellent article by Alexandra Selivanova, “Moscow’s 12 deteriorating Constructivism era buildings.” The light-green and light-brown house above – number two of those twelve – was once called

Student Dormitory, Julian Marchlewski Communist University of the National Minorities of the West.

It’s still a dorm for students of languages and linguistics at the so-called Moscow State Linguistics University, known to older Muscovites as Morisa Toreza, i.e. the Maurice Thorez Institute.

The building, completed in 1931, was designed by Grigory Dankman (1889-1937) together with Maria Rusanova and P. Simakin (I could not even find his first name). According to Selivanova, it is nothing like a deliberately simplified Brutalist project:

…a great monument to the 1920s architecture featuring a full variety of its expressive elements, including concise gracefulness of semicircles and rectangles, vertical glass walls, monumental strips of balconies and loggias, round windows, columns and thin canopies. Three stretched sections comprising the building are divided by the projecting semicircles of its stairwell towers.

What you see in my second picture is actually the middle section of the dormitory compound. The two introductory images on this page show how the whole of it was supposed to look and how it looked from above in 2016.

The canteen and “club” section at the far, Northern end of the dormitory is in a decent condition, as Yandex Photos seem to confirm. However, the southern section burned out some 20 years ago and hasn’t been rebuilt. The building stands on the slope of a hill – Dankman and his colleagues probably expected it to dominate the surroundings:

Dankman exploited the Ivanovskaya hill curvature so that the towers made a great sight when observed from Solyanka Street and Spasoglinishchevsky Lane below.

And it does make a great sight: the building’s damaged wing serves as a landmark of decay among its gentrified surroundings. See more great pictures on this blog and on this page.

Which is odd. It’s a great location. Moscow developers would sell their mothers into sexual slavery for a spot like that. Their partners in crime from the city government would love to authorize another moronically designed high-rise. Somehow mayor Sobyanin’s Urban Uglification Machine has stalled in this case, leaving the city with the lesser evil of a noble skeleton.


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