Boris Iofan

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Iofan's House on Embankmemt, present day

Boris Mihailovich Iofan (April 28, 1891–1976) was a Jewish[1] Soviet architect, known for his Stalinist architecture buildings like 1931 House on Embankment and the 1931-1933 winning draft of the Palace of Soviets.


Born in Odessa, Iofan graduated in 1916 from Italy's Regio Istituto Superiore di Belle Arti (now Accademia di Belle Arti) in Rome with a degree in architecture, initially following the Neoclassical tradition. His first major work was a Barvikha sanatorium for the Party elite (1929), which introduced him to clients at the top of the state.

In 1931, Iofan completed the elite block-wide House on the Embankment (official name Дом Правительства, Government Building). The structure, containing 505 apartments,[2] two theaters and retail stores, became an iconic example of early Stalinism. Boris Iofan was a lifelong resident of this building.

Palace of Soviets[edit]

Iofan's entry to the Palace of Soviets contest won in 1932 (first prize was actually split among three competing entries, but eventually Joseph Stalin awarded the job to Iofan). His design was awarded a gold medal during the 1937 International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life in Paris. Church of Christ the Savior, a monument initiated by Alexander I (and consecrated by Alexander III), was razed for construction of the palace (before the contest began). Construction proceeded slowly; in response to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa, in June 1941 construction work was halted at a time when the structure's steel frame stood 50 metres high. The frame was subsequently disassembled and scrapped for weapons production. In 1958, the Moscow Swimming Pool was erected at the site, after construction of the palace was abandoned. This open-air pool was eventually shut down and the cathedral was rebuilt at the same location in 1994-1995.

Iofan designed Soviet Pavilions at World Expo in Paris (1937) and New York (1939). Later, he bid for the Moscow State University skyscraper project in Moscow (1947); the job was awarded to Lev Rudnev. In his later years Iofan was awarded the title of People's Architect of the USSR (October 20, 1970).[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Radio "Echo moscvy": "Architect of power"
  2. ^ House on the Embankment web site:
  3. ^ История почетного звания «Народный архитектор СССР», on (accessed in September 2010)

External links[edit]