How the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan was built

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Few people know that the temple of Kazakhstan science was designed by the famous Soviet architect A.V. Shchusev, who designed Lenin's mausoleum as well.

Designing of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR started a year later after the war. K.I. Satpayev, the first President of the Academy, in his first report said: "According to the personal instructions of Comrade Stalin, preparation of the construction of the main building of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR is in progress, it will be a monumental building in the capital of Kazakhstan – Alma-Ata. Construction of the main building of the Academy will be completed in the fourth five-year period."

Two years later, Moscow masters- academician Shchusev, the Stalin laureate and author of the Lenin's tomb, and the architect Prostakov made two designs for this project. First one you can see on the picture, and the second you can see in reality.

The stamp "the courtier architect of Stalin" and builder of Lenin's Mausoleum suppressed all other architectural projects and achievements of Alexei Viktorovich Shchusev. Meanwhile, he had a certain reputation even before Russia became a "country of the Bolsheviks". Take at least, well-known to all Kazakhstan senior generation, Kazansky railway station in Moscow, construction of which began in 1914. But, admittedly, Shchusev showed what he could do only under the new government. During the first decade, he built not only a mausoleum, but also he was the director of the Tretyakov Gallery, took care of the first Soviet reconstruction plan of Moscow (after which only fragments remained from the old Moscow); he was one of the apologists of Soviet Constructivism (hotel "Moscow" was his brainchild).

Architect - academician made his contribution to the "development of national architecture of sister republics". Many people saw his beautiful creation in Tashkent - Big Opera and Ballet Theatre. Large place in his postwar biography takes rebuilding of the destroyed cities: Istria, Novgorod and Chisinau. As for our Academy, Shchusev did not see his offspring - he died in 1949...

Why was rejected the first design? The answer was given in the book "Architecture of Alma- Ata" by M. Mendekulov, venerable Kazakhstani architect. The reasons were:

"First, the building had not clearly identified image of the Soviet scientific institution, it had some features of cult building from the past; main facade had massive solid portals and bulky spherical cupola, it resembled madrasas (spiritual schools). And secondly, the decoration of the building had not a national Kazakh ornament, making it look impersonally".

Construction started by the second design in 1951. (On the picture is Kanysh Satpayev (person with a shovel) "lays the first stone of the future building of the Academy of Sciences of Kazakh SSR"). From this project were removed not only the "cult" elements, which so irritated officials, but also the co-author of the famous builder of the mausoleum.

Popular memories, that building was built by the Japanese prisoners of war, must be treated with caution; or rather, treat them as memories should be treated. Japanese builders are urban myth number 2 (the first one is about Trotsky). Therefore, if you believe in all such memories, then turns out that the whole old Alma- Ata was built by the valiant Japanese (and every other citizen at least once in their life have seen Leo Trotsky in the Ile reeds). I saw "Japanese track" even where the construction was completed before the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan.

Despite the plan, Presidium Building was not ready during the fourth five-year plan and in the fifth as well. Construction ended only in 1957 (and this was the sixth five-year plan!); but it was finished only from the front side, the back side was built a quarter century later.

Few people know, that the Schusev and Prostakov project included not only the building of the Presidium, but the whole complex of the Academy of Sciences, that supposed to start at the main doors on Shevchenko street and end at the  beautiful semicircular area on Kalinin Street (in the diagram). Interestingly, but the boulevard itself (now - street Valikhanova ) was preserved to a certain extent; it cannot be said about the other part of the complex, which supposed to include institutions buildings and houses in the middle of parks and fountains. Only square in front of the Presidium was finished, but by other projects.

Despite the pomposity of the building, it became home for many generations of Almaty inhabitants. Many people who are far from science, visited museums (inside the Academy) as children, many students attended the academic library, but most just walked around the Academy - no wonder that this place is considered as one of the most favorite among the citizens.

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