Despite its significance as a masterpiece of modern engineering, the Shukhov Tower, currently on the 2016 World Monuments Watch, is victim to an unfortunate history of alarming decline.
The tower is an emblem of the creative genius of an entire generation of modernist architects in the transformative years that followed the Russian Revolution. It is a significant example of Constructivism, an influential art and architecture movement that flourished in Russia in the early twentieth century.
The Constructivist architecture that was built from the early 1920s through the early 1930s reflects the political and social transformations of the time. Visionary architects, artists, and engineers, including luminaries such as Konstantin Melnikov and Vladimir Shukhov, created individualistic and innovative works—radical and extreme in design, and experimental in form, space, and boundaries.
Constructivist sites that remain today face threats that are common to modernist architecture around the world. Four innovative works from the era have been included on the World Monuments Watch over the years to highlight these threats. The most recently included, Shukhov Tower suffers from corrosion and advanced deterioration. The Narkomfin Building and Melnikov’s House and Studio still face ongoing deterioration and lack plans for long-term protection. But, the Rusakov Club—another of Melnikov’s significant works—was recently restored, proving that it is possible to save the icons of the Constructivist era.
The survival of modernist architecture worldwide requires ongoing vigilance and support. We ask you to join us in the call to preserve Shukhov Tower.