Saturday, February 23, 2013

Birth of Artur Tarkhanian - February 23, 1932

Some of the most representative buildings of the city of Yerevan are related to the name of architect Artur Tarkhanian.

He was born in Yerevan in 1932. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute (now Yerevan State Engineering University) in 1957. Upon graduation, he started his career at the Haypetnakhagitz (Armenian State Project) Institute. He taught at Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction since 1968. He was conferred the titles of Emeritus Architect of Armenia in 1972 and of People’s Architect in 1987, and became an honorary member of the Moscow branch of the International Academy of Architecture in 1992.

Tarkhanian was distinguished with several all-Soviet prizes, among them the Creativity Medal for Young Architects (1962 and 1968), achievements of Soviet architecture in the period 1973-1977, Best Construction of the Year (1982), Best Creation of the Year (1985). He also received the Anania Shirakatsi Medal of the Republic of Armenia (1998). 

Tarkhanian’s name is linked, together with his coauthors, to some of the best known buildings and monuments, such as:

- The branches of the Social Sciences institutes of the National Academy of Sciences (1955-1972);
- The monument to the victims of the Armenian Genocide on the Tzitzernakaberd hill (1967);
- The “Ayrarat” cinema hall, formerly known as “Rossiya” (1970-1974, winner of the prize of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union in 1979);
- The Youth Palace (1970-1985, winner of the Prize of the all-Soviet Communist Youth Union in 1981);
- The Sports and Music Complex (1984, winner of the State Prize of the USSR in 1987);
- The Zvartnots Airport (1981, winner of the State Prize of Armenia in 1985);
- The monument to painter Martiros Saryan (1986);
 - The monument to singer Charles Aznavour in Gumri (2001); etc.

The prize-winning Youth Palace has been regarded as one of the representative works of Soviet modernism. Unfortunately, this collective work of Tarkhanyan and his colleagues Hrach Poghosyan and Spartak Khachikian was sold by the government and demolished by its new owner in 2006—the same year of Tarkhanian’s death—despite expert opinion that the building only needed to be renovated. The 18-floor Youth Palace, containing a hotel, a revolving cafe on the top floor (like the Marriott Hotel in Manhattan), two halls with a capacity of 1,000 and 300 seats, and its many artworks, which had been a popular place in the 1970s and 1980s, went down into history. Until today, the site remains empty.
Artur Tarkhanian (middle) reviewing architectural plans with colleagues.