Participants on a tour of Shukhov Tower on Watch Day, 2016
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Happy Birthday Shukhov Tower!

Participants on a tour of Shukhov Tower on Watch Day, 2016

Shukhov Tower Watch Day was held on March 19 and 20 in Moscow to celebrate the tower’s 94th birthday and to call attention to the 2016 advocacy efforts for the tower. On March 19, 1922, the first broadcasting signal was transmitted from the tower; it was officially completed on March 21 of the same year.

The weekend began with free walking tours in Russian and English. Guides explained the history of the tower and the surrounding avant-garde neighborhood. Because access to the tower is not permitted by the owner, guides led participants around the neighborhood, with the tower in sight. Additional activities, including a public press conference, took place at the nearby Avant-Garde Center. Attendees were both inspired and alarmed by what they saw happening to the urban fabric of the Shabolovka district.

WMF president Joshua David opened the press conference, noting the importance of preserving such monuments and highlighting the difficulties of protecting the tower. Nikolai Vassiliev, general secretary of Docomomo Russia, described the history of his organization’s unanswered inquiries to government authorities about plans for Shukhov Tower, including recent “stabilization” works. Rustam Rakhmatullin, from the advocacy group Archnadzor, highlighted the paradox of the current situation: near the tower there is a sign that states the tower is an architectural monument and is protected by the state, but no one can read this sign since the tower is located in a restricted territory. Architect Tatiana Vinogradova spoke about her work at another Shukhov hyperboloid, a former electricity pylon on the Oka River near Nizhny Novgorod that recently received an upgrade in status as a federal monument (the Shukhov Tower in Moscow only has regional status).

The press conference was followed by a screening of documentaries about Shukhov and a celebration with refreshments, a birthday cake, and cookies, which both had the image of the tower printed on them. In the end, no one dared to cut the center of the birthday cake; the image of the tower remained intact despite the tempting chocolate cream below.

The second day of the weekend included the presentation of the book “What Shukhov Invented” by Airat Bagautidinov, a historian of engineering. The book was recently published after a successful public fundraising campaign, which confirms the interest in the heritage of Shukhov. The book is intended primarily for family audiences and young readers, who after listening to the author of the book, then celebrated the tower’s birthday by creating a poster with the group Suprematicus and by assembling a model section of the tower.