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Rudnev was born to the family of a school teacher in the town of Opochka (other sources state Novgorod). He graduated from the Riga Realschule (now the Riga 1st State Grammar School) and entered the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg (1906). At the Academy he studied painting under Leon Benois and architecture under Ivan Fomin. From 1911 Rudnev was a success in various architectural competitions, and in 1915 he became a certified specialist in the art of architecture.
After the February Revolution Rudnev won the competition for the Victims of the Revolution monument on the Field of Mars in Petrograd (March 1917). The avant-garde monument there was built according to his design.
After the end of the Second World War, Lev Rudnev took active part in reconstructing the ruined cities of Voronezh, Stalingrad, Riga and Moscow. In 1922–1948 Rudnev was a Professor of the Academy of Arts (former Imperial Academy of Arts) in Leningrad; in 1948–1952 he was a Professor at the Moscow Institute for Architecture (Moskovskij Arkhitekturny Institut). Rudnev was also a member of Soviet Academy of Architecture.
Rudnev's most remarkable architectural work is the ensemble of the Lomonosov Moscow State University on Vorobyovy (then Lenin's) Hills (1948–1953, co-designed with S. Chernyshov, P. Abrosimov, A. Khryakov, and engineer V. Nasonov). His Palace of Culture and Science in the centre of Warsaw in Poland (1952–1955) resembles the markedly sculptural style of the MSU ensemble.
He was the author of many large scale Soviet projects, including:
- Frunze Military Academy in Moscow (1939)
- administrative building on Shaposhnikov street (1934–1938)
- administrative building on Frunze embankment (1938–1955)
- the main building of Moscow State University (1949–1953). This is probably the best known of his buildings, for which he was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1949
- House of the Government of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic in Baku (finished in 1952)
- Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw in Poland (1952–1955)
- buildings of Latvian Academy of Sciences in Riga (1953–1956)
|The main building of Moscow State University.||Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw|
- Media related to Lev Rudnev at Wikimedia Commons
- Architect Lev Rudnev, the Author of the Colossus of MSU (English)
- Biography and Works (Russian)
- Architect of the Main Building of the Moscow University (Russian)
- Biography (Russian)
- Works (Russian)