Another Competition for Moscow’s Expanding Subway Network


Image © Zaha Hadid Architects


Even under Stalin, Moscow subway stations represented the crown jewels of the city’s projects when it came to design. In more recent years, the emphasis placed on modern design in the city’s expanding metro rail network has resulted in some major new projects, and this year’s competitions for two stations was no exception: the Klenoviy Boulevard Station 2 won by Zaha Hadid Architects (London), and the Prospect Marshala Zhukova station, won by the ASADOV Architectural Bureau (Moscow). 


According to Sergei Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow and Deputy President of the Jury, “We have already held five station design competitions, and each time we have had the most amazing results possible. These are always symbolic milestones for the architecture of the Moscow metro, as such things help improve the public image of both the metro itself and the modern architecture of Moscow in general. This year’s winners offered us vibrant innovations that showed that we’re moving in the right direction. I firmly believe that the new stations will make an excellent addition to the city’s tourist itinerary.”


The competition for development of the architectural appearance of the Prospekt Marshala Zhukova and Klenovy Bulvar 2 metro stations is the fifth such event. The number of applications broke all records and was 50% higher than the previous competition. As many as 330 potential contestants registered on the website, 113 of them (primarily from Russia) submitting applications. Italy led the foreign countries with 8 firms in the competition’s shortlisting stage, followed by Great Britain, with 6 companies submitting applications. The other international competitors were companies from Spain, Latvia, the Netherlands, Japan (2 from each country), Hungary, Germany, China, Poland, and Uzbekistan (1 from each country). The competition had two stages. At the first stage, the expert jury headed by Andrey Bochkarev, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Urban Policy and Construction, selected 5 finalists for each metro station based on their portfolios, relevant experience, and two essays (one per station). The shortlisted teams for the two metro stations was as follows:


For Klenoviy Boulevard 2:

Architectural Bureau KPLN LLC (Moscow, Russia);
Zaha Hadid Architects (London, UK) with A-project, Krost (Moscow, Russia);
  Arup Lighting (London, UK); Systematica s.l.r (Milan, Italy);
ABTB LLC (Moscow, Russia);
Blank Architects CJSC (Moscow, Russia);
Buro Vozduh (Moscow, Russia) with WP ARC Plan GmbH (Hannover, Germany).


For Prospekt Marshala Zhukova:

ABTB LLC (Moscow, Russia);
Blank Architects CJSC (Moscow, Russia);
MAParchitects LLC (Moscow, Russia)
NOWADAYS LLC (Moscow, Russia) with Architects of Invention (London, UK);


It is no surprise that the majority of the competitors selected in the shortlisting process were Russian, but remarkable that the lone foreign firm as a lead design member, Zaha Hadid Architects, was selected the winner above all the local competitors for the Klenovy station.. When viewing the entries for both competitions, it would appear that the Klenoviy Boulevard station probably had a more flexible budget than did that for the Prospect Marshala Zhukova station. Although this may be the result of the expansive nature of the Klenoviy Boulevard station as a hub, the designs of the Prospect Marshala Zhukova station gave a more modest impression. In terms of architectural expression, the main contenders for the Klenoviy Boulevard station exhibited more creativity, especially sculpturally, than was the case for Prospect Marshal Zhukova.





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Prince Charles in the White House?

Expressway toll booth of the future ©Paul Spreiregen
(Explanation of lane designations below*)


Recent news about a new U.S. government policy concerning the design of public buildings under President Trump bears a striking resemblance to the controversy surrounding that very issue in the U.K. in the second half of the 20thcentury. It was then that Prince Charles appeared on the scene to challenge the use of modern design in architecture. Prince Charles’ career as architecture critic on the public stage began in 1984 with his criticism of Mies van der Rohe’s design for a new tower on Mansion House Square in London. Unfortunately for Britain’s architects, the voice of the crown carries some weight in British society, and the Mies tower was scrapped, replaced by a post-modern structure by James Stirling—which the Prince also did not like. According to the Prince, those modernist buildings resembled “Frankenstein monsters.” According to U.K.-based architects who had to deal with Charles’ pushback on modern design during that period, he was the “worst thing that happened to architecture here.”


Since then, Prince Charles’ influence in blocking the evolution of modern design in the U.K. has diminished considerably with the ascendance of modern architecture as a common staple—led by architects such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Amanda Levete, Zaha Hadid, John McAslan, Nicholas Grimshaw, Thomas Heatherwick, and others. Although not taken seriously by his European neighbors on the continent, Prince Charles’ ideas did find fertile ground in the U.S.—both in municipalities and even in academia, where classical architecture became a staple at such programs as Notre Dame and, to a lesser extent, Yale. At the latter, I learned from a former student there that Prince Charles even surfaced on a list of “architects” one could choose from as a topic in one seminar.


Instead of peer review, federal architecture under the auspices of the General Services Administration (GSA) now will apparently be at the mercy of a “beautification” panel, which will see to it that modern architecture recedes into the background, if at all. U.S. architects may see themselves placed in the uncomfortable position German, Italian and Russian architects experienced under their totalitarian regimes in the 1930s. By embracing the primacy of classical architecture as a blueprint for public buildings, the Trump regime certainly has helped the National Civic Art Society reach its ultimate goal, at least at the federal level—requiring American architects to turn to the replication of 17thand 18thcentury-style buildings as the preferred design model. Assuming that happens, Prince Charles would be a welcome visitor in the White House.


Addressing this issue, Paul Spreiregen FAIA, architect and professional adviser for the Vietnam Memorial competition states:

“Architectural history is not a copybook. Rather It is a textbook, to be read with a deep understanding of the many principles upon which architecture comes into being. The history of architecture is not served by aping it but by building on it, addressing the programmatic needs of each new building in its own time and place, its neighbored respected, thereby reflecting and honoring the culture it serves. 
To use the “styles” of the past as a cloak for the new is a lie, a subterfuge for respectability and supposed prestige. That is the work of authoritarian governments. Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were its more recent and notorious promoters. They produced not architecture but laughable if not tragic cartoons of architecture.

All the great works of architecture of the past were, in their own times and places, masterpieces of ancient principles seen anew. That practice has been the glory of the best of American architecture.”**

*Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post, 17 February 2020


*Lane designations

I – Express lane for National Civic Art Society members and family
II – One-horse Roman War chariots (a non carbon emitting benefit)
III – Two-horse Roman war chariots (other emissions of a non carbon nature to be monitored)
IV – Fiats
V – Ferraris
VI – Alpha Romeos
VII-IX – Other automobiles of the great unwashed
VVV…. etc (in colonnade)

Vestal virgins (scantily clad in aisles I-VI) poised in colonnade who wave red or green flags to signal receipt of toll fee
R It – Italian fast food restaurant. (order by mobile phone)
R Gr – Greek fast food restaurant.