ICON, Spring 2006
With an architectural legacy that spans nearly a millennium, Moscow is a virtual primer on the history of Russian architecture—its streets lined with buildings representing all ages and methods of construction. Yet, like so many cities witnessing urban renewal after years of decline, Moscow is at a crossroadsforced to decide what of its historic fabric will stay, what is to go, and what of its past can find new life. Preservation decisions made to date, however, have been less than encouraging, the city having lost some 2,000 historically important buildings to unbridled development in the past decade alone. Perhaps more disturbing, this trend continues despite the fact that Russian President Vladamir Putin recently called for significant investment in historic preservation, having drawn up a list of 80,000 structures entitled to government protection. For organizations such as WMF, Moscow presents one of the great preservation dilemmas. But the organization has never been one to shy away from a challenge, responding to it by taking on a host of restoration projects in and around the city in hopes that by example others will follow.
This issue, we focus on preserving Moscow (see pagel8), presenting WMF's portfolio of work in the region and exploring the challenges that lay ahead. Also in this issue, ICON caught up with Turkish photographer Ahmet Ertug, whose images of ancient sanctuaries will make their North American debut this April in WMF's New York City Gallery at the Prince George (see page 32). We also enter the extraordinary world of Sir John Soane, one of England's most famous architects and a Renaissance man in every respect (see page 38). His stripped-down classicism, so prized in the eighteenth century, is experiencing a revival, due in no small part to the recent restoration of some of his most famed works, including the estate of Moggerhanger and the Gothic Library at Stowe. Shortly before press time, WM F President Bonnie Burnham and Executive Vice President Henry Ng traveled to Beijing to attend a ceremony marking the launch of a decade-long campaign to restore the eighteenth-century Qianlong Garden in the Forbidden City, carried out in partnership with the Palace Museum (see page 12) and a story we will be following in future issues.