Three days ago, the Institute of Theory and History of Architecture NIITIAG, which now exists as a branch of TsNIIP under the Ministry of Construction, received an order to relocate and transfer the accounting department to the parent organization. The situation is unclear, but there are fears that the Institute will disappear as a result. We talk with representatives of the profession about the value of NIITIAG, about why it should be preserved. (Here is a petition on change.org in defense of the Institute).
Collected below are the statements:
Dmitry Shvidkovsky | By Alexander Rappaport | Grigory Revzin | Elizaveta Likhacheva | Andrey Bokov | Andrey Batalov
and several posts on facebook, including about the books of NIITIAG
From the Editor: Briefly about what is happening
NIITIAG is a research institute for the theory and history of architecture and urban planning, well known among architectural historians. The collections of the Institute are well known: "Architectural Heritage", "Questions of the General History of Architecture", "Collection of the Society for the Study of the Russian Estate", "Wooden Architecture", "Modern Architecture of the World"; NIITIAG holds many conferences, publishes monographs - in a word, it does everything that a research institute is supposed to do.
The Institute was founded in 1944, but its history began with the Cabinet of Theory and History of Architecture at the All-Union Academy of Architecture. The Academy, now - RAASN, was founded in 1933, the Cabinet - in 1934. Thus, the institute is either 66 or 76 years old. Aleksey Gutnov and Vyacheslav Glazychev, recognized gurus of modern Russian urbanism, Selim Khan-Magomedov, who wrote the history of the Russian avant-garde, Yuri Volchok, the historian of architecture of Soviet modernism, and the philosopher of architecture Alexander Rappaport worked in it. Many specialists, doctors and candidates of sciences work in it, for example, Irina Dobritsyna, the author of the thesis "From Postmodernism to Nonlinear Architecture" and Maria Nashchokina, the author of many books on the architecture of Russian Art Nouveau (the list of employees is here). The history of NIITIAG is quite long, it changed its name several times, obeyed the Academy of Architecture, then Gosgrazhdanstroy, since 1993 - RAASN. Several years ago, NIITIAG became a branch of TsNIIP, a "scientific and design institution" under the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation.
The other day, on February 16, NIITIAG received two orders from its current parent organization. One - with a demand to vacate the building at 9 Dushinskaya Street by February 28; as follows from the same order, it is planned to place the employees in the TsNIIP building on Vernadsky Avenue, 29. The second order is to close the personal account of the institute and transfer the assets of TsNIIP by March 1.
According to the site "Keepers of Heritage", of the 145 employees in the institute, 19 may remain - according to our information, this is the number of scientific topics that TsNIIP approved for NIITIAG for 2021. Again, according to rumors, after the takeover of the institute by the parent organization, it is planned to use its employees for methodological support of capital construction.
One way or another, it is already obvious that the only scientific institute dealing with the history and theory of architecture, as a result of the execution of orders signed by the leadership of TsNIIP, is losing its independence. A significant reduction in staff is not excluded. The fate of the collections and conferences of NIITIAG, as well as its scientific library, is unclear. In general, it must be admitted that little is clear, and at the same time it is not so difficult to understand that the institution is in danger of extinction. I wish it didn't happen. We spoke with several representatives of the profession about the value and possible fate of NIITIAG. UT
Dmitry Shvidkovsky / | \
Doctor of Arts, Professor, President of RAASN, Rector of Moscow Architectural Institute
“The Institute for Theory and History of Architecture is one of the most valuable treasures of the entire architectural community. It is not only a scientific institution, but also, if you like, unlike many other institutions, a development institution. He is acting. Thanks to the fundamental research program, NIITIAG unites people from all over the country, not only from Moscow or St. Petersburg. The Institute is literally the only remaining center engaged in both the preservation and study of the historical heritage of architecture and urban planning in Russia.
The Institute is recognized by the world community, its journals and publications are included in world databases. His works are also noted in our country: the fundamental edition of the General History of Architecture in 12 volumes received the highest award, the State Prize. The history of Russian urban planning, The history of restoration in Russia - all these are unprecedented publications prepared and published by NIITIAG.
The Institute at the moment is unprecedented, we have nothing to replace it with and nothing to compare with. It certainly needs to be preserved. The Academy of Architecture will do its best for this. The best solution would be to transfer the Institute to the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences - as it has always been, since its creation as a Cabinet in the 1930s. What is now happening with NIITIAG is the result of the fact that it was removed from the Academy.
Now the whole country, including Moscow, is faced with the task of improving the professional quality of architectural and urban planning. Creating a comfortable urban environment can only be based on science. National projects must have scientific support. A comfortable living environment simply cannot exist without historical content, its formation is impossible without understanding the laws, value and importance of the historical process, of which we are all a part: the 20th century is already history, any change in the environment becomes history. Therefore, people who understand the laws, are able to analyze and are ready to apply their knowledge not only in theory, but also in practice, are absolutely necessary - among other things, and for the development of a comfortable living environment, which the President of the Russian Federation spoke about. Someone has to work with this. To create a comfortable environment, it is necessary to preserve the institutions for the development of this environment - the most important of which in the architectural field is NIITIAG."
Andrey Bokov, / | \
Doctor of Architecture, Academician of RAASN, Head of Mosproekt-4 (1998-2014), President of the SAR (2008-2016), People's Architect of the Russian Federation
“For me, as for many of my friends and colleagues, some of the best years of my life are associated with this institute. I came to full-time postgraduate studies at TsNIITIA after three years of work "at the Mosproekt factory." The Institute, in contrast to Mosproekt, turned out to be an amazing place - a collection of outstanding, great people of different generations. Life with them has become a wonderful school. These were people of opposite views, high-level thinkers, who spoke and wrote brilliantly - Alexander Rappaport, son of Ivan Leonidov Andrey, Yuri Lebedev, Selim Khan-Magomedov, Alexey Gutnov, Vyacheslav Glazychev … Many have gone through the Institute or found themselves nearby.
The Institute remained a space of free thought and living vision. For everyone involved in applied architecture, the works of the Institute - books, discussions, conversations - made life and work meaningful. Without this "cauldron of ideas", without the "doses" of oxygen that nourished the profession, there would be no Soviet modernism or its heroes.
In my opinion, normal existence and development of professional culture is impossible without such an institution. Its destruction is comparable to the removal of the brain from the profession. Or hearts, souls … It's hard to say, but he was definitely some important organ, a guarantee of a vital norm.
Perhaps in recent years the Institute was not in the best condition, but it was, which always allows us to hope for continuation and development. Excellent scientists who cannot be represented outside the Institute are still working in it. I am sure that the model of a research institute remains relevant for our country. The Anglo-Saxon model of the development of science in universities discussed today is not typical for us, who are accustomed to the European continental tradition, when science develops in all sorts of Academies and research institutes - it is they who gather around them people who are able to think and analyze. This great culture is now being destroyed. There is no complete replacement. Secondaryness, marginalization, and borrowing become the inevitable result.
The story of the administrative reassignment of NIITIAG has been going on for a long time, it is part of an even larger plot about the subordination of architecture to construction, which was born by the Khrushchev resolution of 1955. We are witnessing the final stage of a long-standing tragedy."
Elizaveta Likhacheva / | \
Director of the Museum of Architecture. A. V. Shchuseva
“I am very surprised by what is happening. I don’t understand why the Ministry of Construction treats one of its specialized scientific institutions in this way and, I must say, I was glad that the Museum of Architecture is now subordinated to the Ministry of Culture, and not the Ministry of Construction. NIITIAG is an institute with a long and very good scientific tradition; today it is one of the few that is engaged in serious fundamental research based on a good knowledge of the history of the issue, and not on capturing fashionable superficial tendencies. Unfortunately, there are very few such institutions left - capable of tracking, interpreting and formulating directions of development, relying on the “history of the issue”.
Of course, in recent years the Institute has gone through hard times. I think that his activities need some revision, in determining the direction in which to develop and move on. Some time ago, the Institute began to "drift" towards heritage protection - this area is certainly very important, but we must not forget that many prominent Soviet architects and urban planners worked at NIITIAG, that at one time it was a generator of meanings and an urgent agenda. I sincerely don’t understand why any organization, but not a specialized institute, is now participating in public discussions of important urban planning projects. Everyone around is trying to impose their own in and and influence on something, but NIITIAG does not. For me, this is a mysterious phenomenon.
Therefore, in my opinion, the Institute needs reform, but definitely not destruction. It's crazy to destroy a scientific institution with such potential. The potential of the Institute is enormous, and it must be properly used."
Andrey Batalov / | \
professor, doctor of art history, deputy director general for scientific work of the Moscow Kremlin Museums
“The Cabinet of the History of Architecture, from which the Institute later grew, emerged at a time when the connection between the history of architecture and practice was especially strong and relevant. But this relevance has always remained - it is no coincidence that some time before 1971 the Institute was called the Research Institute of Theory, History and Prospective Problems. Almost all sections of architectural science were represented in its subdivisions: there were departments of industrial, Soviet, foreign architecture; the department of architectural bionics was the only one in the country. There was a department of theory and composition, which was directly related to practice. Because architectural practice is creativity, which also comes into contact with science. The connection with practice was never interrupted: not only art historians, architectural historians, restorers and theorists worked at the Institute, but also architects with design experience.
A unique team gathered there, which no other institution in the country could boast of. It is important to understand that architecture organizes the space not only of the city, but of the entire country as a whole. And what architectural creativity can turn into without knowledge of history, the foundations of the theory of architecture, ideas about style, without memory of searches in the theory of composition - we see right now, when, before our very eyes, architecture is turning into a kind of applied discipline based on computer design. I would say that the Institute is the heart of architectural culture, since architecture is not a discipline that can afford to be locked into a narrow professional activity. Architecture also reflects the philosophy of the time, it is the key to understanding any era.
An institution such as TsNIITIA / NIITIAG could exist only in a state that is capable of realizing that it is needed. If the state ceases to be aware of this, this is a very alarming signal about the state of culture of the state itself, about the state of mind. It is impossible to move forward without science. There will be no architectural science - and architecture will gradually turn into faceless schemes that give rise to depression in people living in such cities.
Another aspect is alarming: just recently we organized letters asking not to transfer the restoration industry to builders. Now, using the example of NIITIAG, we see what could have happened with the restoration - the conviction that something that seems pragmatically unnecessary can be destroyed, destroys the prospects for the development of the state. And now, as we know, the state is facing the task of rethinking the architectural space of all cities. How can this be done without such an institution? Where did people continue to work, continued to respond, including to current inquiries? I will cite the wonderful books by Alexei Shchenkov about the theory of temple building and the two-volume History of Restoration. Without knowing the history of the restoration, it is impossible to be a restorer. The collection "Architectural Heritage", which has existed since 1951, serves as the main source of information for architectural historians throughout the country. The closure of this Institute will affect many aspects of life: architectural universities, departments; it will be reflected in the life of architects, restorers, and art critics."
Alexander Rappaport / | \
architect, critic, theorist and philosopher of architecture
Alexander Rappaport in his post on facebook wrote, in particular: “[we] should have done everything in our power to save the oldest and most unique institution and it would be natural to expect that right now we need to do everything possible to prepare people, able to accept this challenge of history and save this art, which lies at the origins of the entire world culture and today is experiencing very complex forces of technology and economics, sometimes hindering the art of architecture."
Grigory Revzin / | \
architectural historian, critic
Grigory Revzin, in a comment under Andrei Barkhin's post about the dispersal of the institute, listed the people with whom he worked at NIITIAG: “My first place of work, 10 years since 1988. It was great there. Irina Atykovna Azizyan, Galina Sergeevna Lebedeva, Natalia Alekseevna Adaskina, Irina Aleksandrovna Dobritsyna, David Kalmanovich Bernstein, Andrey Viktorovich Baburov, Anatoly Isaakovich Kaplun, Andrey Vladimirovich Ikonnikov - this is my sector, I saw them twice a week, and also Omarovich Selim -Magomedov, Alexander Gerbertovich Rappaport, Vyacheslav Leonidovich Glazychev, Nikolai Feodosievich Gulyanitsky, Georgy Petrovich Shchedrovitsky, Grigory Zosimovich Kaganov, Yuri Pavlovich Volchok, Alexander Arkadyevich Vysokovsky, Andrey Vladimirovich Bokov, Grisha Lvov, Andrey Vladimirovich Bokov, Grisha Lvov, Igor Bondarenko, Anna Nikolaevna Shukurova, Inna Slyunkova, Aleksey Serafimovich Shchenkov, Andrey Flier, Andrey Vladimirovich Ryabushin, Irina Buseva-Davydova, Margarita Astafieva-Dlugach, Oganes Khachaturovich Khalpakhchyan, while Nina Petrovna Kraylya remembered whom, while Nina Petrovna Kraylya recalled whom I am writing this post."
To my request for comment, Grigory Revzin replied like this: “I just named the people who worked with me there. In my opinion, it is clear from this that it was a great institution."
Andrey Chekmarev's post about NIITIAG books / | \
Post by Alexander Rappaport (in full)
Andrey Barkhin's post