Why am I an architect?
There were family prerequisites for that. My great-grandfather, Pyotr Ivanovich Makushin, a philanthropist, public figure and educator of Siberia, who founded the first book publishing house in Tomsk with a branch in Irkutsk, opened bookstores and the first free library, in 1916 with his own money built in the city of Tomsk the "House of Science" for the university.
The son of a rural clerk, himself educated at the Theological Academy of St. Kryachkov.
Perhaps this event influenced the choice of profession for his grandson-architect Pyotr Ivanovich Skokan, who became one of the students of the school-workshop of I.V. Zholtovsky.
P.I. Skokan, my uncle - a well-known man of various talents and great charm in his time, in turn, could not help but influence my professional choice. Later it turned out that almost all members of my family (children, nephews, their wives) are architects. I hope that the grandchildren will be able to save them from this temptation.
In the Moscow Architectural Institute in the 1960s, my teachers were the famous avant-garde artists of the 1920s – 1930s M.A. Turkus and V.F. Krinsky, in neighboring groups taught by M.O. Barshch and M.I. Sinyavsky. In the corridor of the institute, interrupting for a minute the then viciously popular game of "zoska" , it was necessary to step aside, letting GB Barkhin, the author of Izvestia, one of the best houses in Moscow of the twentieth century, who went to class with huge books under his arm. And the son of Grigory Borisovich, Boris Grigorievich Barkhin, was the leader of our group. It was he who instilled in us primary professional skills, or, more simply, taught us how to work.
After graduating from the institute in 1966, I was sent "by assignment" to Mosproekt-2. Student romance gave way to boring reality. In the workshop where I worked, they designed mainly residential buildings for the HOSU of the Central Committee, which at that time could be safely called "elite" housing. There was a lot of strength, energy and enthusiasm in the young architectural body, and the public service did not allow to fully realize their ambitions, therefore, when I was invited to participate in the work of the NER group, I gladly agreed - it was a great honor to be next to Alexei Gutnov, Ilya Lezhavoy, Andrey Baburov and other legendary personalities. It was then that I acquired the skill of working in a team, which is very useful for further professional activity - now that successful work is necessarily well-coordinated teamwork, where roles are clearly and clearly assigned, and, in addition, all participants are connected by mutual sympathy and friendship, and not only professional relationships.
It should be understood that in the 1960s there were practically no sources of information other than the official ones, and therefore COMMUNICATION was so important and necessary. While communicating, we exchanged our subjective judgments and knowledge. For example, my friend Andrei Baburov noticed, and I remembered that Scriabin's piano works should be listened to only performed by Vladimir Sofronitsky. It was in that basement that one could talk about a new novel by Faulkner or Max Frisch, it was there that I first got acquainted with jazz compositions arranged by Gil Evans, and there many other "discoveries" were made and knowledge gained.
As soon as the period of compulsory work "on assignment" ended, I entered the postgraduate course of VNIiITIA. My scientific advisor was Andrei Vladimirovich Ikonnikov, a worthy scientist and theorist of architecture.And again I was lucky - in the intellectual epicenter of the Institute, in the smoking room under the stairs, for two years once a week (on the obligatory attendance day for graduate students) I listened to Andrei Leonidov (son of Ivan Leonidov), Alexander Rappaport, my friends Andrei Bokov and Vladimir Yudintsev. And even at that time such luminaries as S.O. Khan-Magomedov, A.V. Oppolovnikov and N.F. Gulyanitsky.
A few years later, Vladimir Yudintsev and I ended up together again. This time, in the department of advanced research of the Research and Development Institute of the General Plan, which after some time was headed by Alexey Gutnov. Thanks to Gutnov's organizational and other talents, we had a kind of special status and were engaged only in what interested us and seemed to us really important, independently coming up with topics for research and projects.
The main incentive for our activity was to "overturn" the General Plan, which was in force at that time, dividing the city into several, seven or eight, independent cities - planning zones, with their centers. The main ideologist of that General Plan, Simon Matveyevich Matveev, who was propelled against the wall in discussions by us, turned away from us with the answer that "a bad General Plan is better than no General Plan." This desire to do everything "WRONG", to see it differently, in its own way, in its own perspective, allowed our team to make many discoveries and directions in which further work was going on.
We proposed to consider the city in the context of a complex system of agglomeration ties, which then, as, indeed, in many respects and now, was hindered by administrative obstacles separating the city from the surrounding territories, called the region. We also said that the city needs a polycentric structure of business multifunctional centers located at transport hubs (in the current TPU), instead of one that was planned then, the so-called "City". At the same time, another important and promising direction was discovered - work with the historical city and its environment, which did not meet any applicable standards. While “discovering” this familiar but professionally unfamiliar city, we began our research with historical, morphological, functional, and even attempts at social analysis. The problems of the city were seen from different, new points of view.
Then, in the 1980s, architects, although they worked a lot, lived in poverty, and their friends-artists: painters, graphic artists, sculptors, monumentalists (designers), if they had orders, earned decent money. Therefore, architects were so attracted to work in the Art Combines, where they entered into a creative symbiosis with artists. The expositions of museums and exhibitions were jointly created, the decoration of theaters, clubs, industrial buildings was done.
Collaboration with artists is a very good professional school, experience of free intuitive activity, without architectural programming.
Here my teachers were: the sculptor Nikolai Nikogosyan, the Rukavishnikov family of sculptors and, finally, the monumentalist and painter Ivan Lubennikov, with whom we made several very important works - the exposition of the Soviet section of the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, the 17th Youth, the exhibition of the Memorial Society, several competitions, and whatnot.
Of the great teachers, one cannot fail to mention L.N. Pavlova, with whom I was lucky to work for almost a month in Weimar (Bauhaus) in 1978 as part of an international project seminar. The clarity, clarity and expressiveness of his architectural gestures, conversations with him and in general, the Master's charm made a great impression on me.
And finally, 30 years ago, in 1989, a project for the reconstruction of the Ostozhenka district gave birth to and formed our architectural bureau, which later received the name AB Ostozhenka.
It was here that all the professional experience I had accumulated before, as well as the experience of working in a friendly team of like-minded people, came in handy.
Working in a historical environment, after the experience of working in the General Plan with the territories of Zamoskvorechye, Stoleshnikov, Pokrovka, etc., was familiar and understandable. Parcels opened during the work on Stoleshnikov Lane came in handy - the new buildings began to easily fit into the historical environment while observing these historical lines. Working at Ostozhenka is also a colossal experience of working with initially timid customers and developers who politely asked: “How many square meters can you build here?”, And communication with the then emerging class of officials, many of whom were brothers-architects until recently.
I had a very interesting experience of working with foreign architects: Finns, Italians, British, Turks, Yugoslavs (there was such a country Yugoslavia!), Dutch, French.
Since 2003, the time has come for large international competitions, in which our Bureau participated.
These are the competition for the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, the Big Moscow competition (2012), the Moskva River competition. We did the last two competitions together with our French colleagues (Yves Lyon bureau). Again, very important discoveries were made for us and for our city - a railway, a river, 100 cities and 140 rivers). Our partners in the competitions were also geographers, transport workers, sociologists and historian-architect Andrei Baldin.
Without summing up any conclusions, without pretending to discover the final truths, and ending this conversation about architecture and architects, I would like to try to formulate several theses that seem important to me:
Thesis one: "RELIABILITY OF ARCHITECTURE"
Relevance means conformity to a place, its properties and characteristics. At the same time, one cannot fail to notice that the meaning and meaning of the concept of "place" is constantly diminishing and blurring before our eyes, that is, the further we go, the more we are, as it were, not here, as if not in this place.
On the one hand, this is the result of increased mobility - we have visited, seen, fell in love with a huge number of places in the world and now it is difficult for us to remain committed to only one and only one, even if this place is our so-called “small homeland”.
On the other hand, thanks to smartphones and other smart toys, gadgets and devices, which are now with us always and everywhere, we are in this particular place, here, only physically, in fact, looking at the screens of smartphones, we are far away - completely in other geographic locations and other situations. 
That is, now, in connection with digitalization, gadgetisation and other telephony, the quality and properties of the place of stay from which we go into space, except for the convenience of sitting or standing, are no longer important.
In this regard, it will not be inappropriate to touch upon another relevant topic: architecture and design.
Who are we? Are they still architects, or are they more likely designers, designers of perfect objects, including houses, their shells or interior furnishings?
Design is extraterritorial and cosmopolitan, insensitive to context. A designer product (you can't say that about architecture) will be good everywhere if it is technically and aesthetically perfect. The design is global. Globalism is partly a child of design.
The architect is more local, down-to-earth. The result of his labor, as a rule, stands firmly on the ground. Although they talk about the architecture of ships, and the architecture (but not design) of some institutions, such as the European Union, quite recently there were "perestroika architects" and so on.
Without delving into such considerations, I think that design, and everything connected with it, can be more or less definitely referred to as global phenomena and rather embedded in a temporal context - timely and relevant. And we will call architecture what is RIGHT for a particular place, built into it, corresponding to its spirit (genius loci), taste, smell, history …
The second thesis: "EVERYTHING IS ALREADY"
That is, you do not need to invent anything, you just need to learn to see what already exists, what has long or even always been present: in the form of historical traces of landholding boundaries, old streets or roads, filled up rivers and ravines, abandoned industrial territories and railway tracks ("Branches"), which were entangled, lined with large cities in the first half of the twentieth century - all this already exists or already existed, and an attentive urban researcher will not pass by this.
Such "discoveries" are nothing more than in and denying the already known in a new perspective or re-reading existing contexts in the light of “newly revealed circumstances”. A well-known bad example of a stupid or malicious invention of something "which never happened" is the annexation of new territories to Moscow in 2011, instead of looking for reserves and resources for further development in the city itself. Then clever designers proposed a rethinking of the existing waste areas in the city (recycling), inefficiently used industrial, as well as adjacent to the river and railways, lands - the so-called "forgotten city". This is secondary development, the processing of urban substance with a change in meanings and functions, a natural and inevitable process (Lizin pond - Tyufeleva Roscha - AMO - ZIS - ZIL - Zilart …).
The only problem is how we treat the remnants or traces of previous use - with curiosity, disgust or respect. This is a test for our culture, and therefore the demolition of five-story buildings within the framework of the so-called renovation is by no means an architectural problem.
And finally, the thesis, which I call: "NOT SO"
This is when they do not like everyone else and not as it is now accepted here. Not together, not in unison, but in their own way, in their own voice. That is, to try to be not only inside the process, but also outside it, a little from the side - then there will be more chances to see where and where the movement is coming from.
The art, obviously, is to optimally alternate the position inside and outside the process.
The position "not so", not together with everyone, otherwise, from a different angle, as if from the outside, may give an opportunity to see more and further and even foresee the future.
After all, architecture is always about the future. From the moment of design to its implementation, there is always a time interval - a month, a year, decades, centuries … Design is a forwarding into the future. Therefore, one of the tasks of architecture and architects is to create not only relevant objects. But also the task is to give a picture, an image of the future. But now, unfortunately, this is done by people by vocation or by profession, who are rather guardians, or simply “guardians” of the already existing from the future, in which they see only threats and challenges. Both economists, who believe how much it will cost to answer these challenges, and lawyers who provide the legal support necessary for all this.  “Zhoskoy” was a specially crumpled piece of paper, which should have been thrown over to its partners in the game.  Unlike archaic means of communication - telephones and TVs, which were permanently tied to a specific point, for example, in a communal apartment the telephone was hung on the wall, however, later a long cord appeared and it became possible to move in space, but only by the length of the cord … The TV also had a specific spot in the room opposite the sofa.