Demolition and Reconstruction: Is it Preservation?

Demolition and Reconstruction: Is it Preservation?

Build and destroy, destroy and build, and again destroy, or ... as the comedians from YMU used to say, “What are we doing? Correct, we are piddling”. No, it’s not a joke … 16 years later, it turned out that there was no need of demolishing the Youth Palace. In other words, people were right, when they opposed the demolition of this architectural value.

Recently, the design project of reconstruction of the Youth Palace (was nicknamed the “Corn Building”) was posted on the Facebook page of development and investment programs. The reconstruction was the pre-election promise of Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan. The three-dimensional model of the reconstruction was recently presented by the architectural studio «A3 Architects». According to the presented model, the new design is a complete copy of the previous building.

Let us recall, that the Youth Palace, the symbol of Yerevan city, was sold in 2004, and in two years it had been demolished in order to build a hotel in its place. But, despite the fact that many tenders were announced, the project has not been implemented, and the territory of the building now serves as a parking lot. Building design co-author Hrach Poghosyan in one of his interviews said: “The person who bought the Youth Palace claimed that it had small rooms, which is unacceptable for the first-class hotel, which he was going to build. … I offered him several options, in particular, to have luxury rooms on ground floors of the building, and leave the small rooms in other parts”. Unfortunately, this interesting proposal was ignored. Today, when they plan to erect the Youth Palace in the city center, it would be more reasonable to involve Hrach Poghosyan in design and construction works. It should be noted that this building is not the only one with a similar fate, copies of which are now being built as part of “Old Yerevan” project.

However, how justified is this policy? From one hand, the city loses its historical face, from the other, they cause psychological trauma to honored architects. The only positive side is that the new constructed buildings will comply with updated seismic safety standards.

Designed by architects Artur Tarkhanyan, Spartak Khachikyan and Hrachya Poghosyan the Youth Palace construction was launched 1967. The official opening took place in 1979. The interior of the building was decorated with interesting works of art, a gilded sculpture of Adam and Eve by Mkrtich Mazmanyan was placed in the bar, and the sculpture Spring by Tom Gevorgyan was placed in the lobby. The palace was decorated with frescoes by Armine Kalents, tapestries by Nelly Asatryan, stained glass windows of Martin Zakaryan and a wooden map of Armenia by Zorik Stepanyan.