An open letter signed by prominent architects, academics, and engineers urges Russian president Vladimir Putin to save the modernist Shukhov radio tower, also known as the Shabolovka tower, from demolition. Last month, the Russian State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting announced its plans to dismantle the Moscow landmark, built in 1922 in order to broadcast programs of the early Soviet era.
The 492-ft.-tall hyperboloid structure, designed by engineer Vladimir Shukhov, employs metal lattice shells that afford the tower minimum wind loads. Six sections rising 82 feet each compose the tower’s round conic case, with the lower section at a diameter of 131 feet mounted onto the concrete foundation. The tower was constructed without the use of cranes or scaffolding.
The letter, published on the Shukov Tower Foundation website
, describes the tower as “one of the emblems of Moscow, and one of the superlative engineering feats of the 20th century, still influencing and enriching technical and architectural ideas globally.”
The letter’s authors also state that disassembling the tower and storing its components for a later rebuild “would be extremely hazardous as there is no guarantee that reconstruction will even be possible. … The hypothetical structure, if it were to be re-created elsewhere, would lose much of its historical significance and all of its urban context.”
Instead, supporters encourage preservation and the tower’s nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The letter’s signatories include Tadao Ando, Henry Cobb, Elizabeth Diller, Rem Koolhaas, and Thom Mayne.
“We are only interested in the protection of the structure,” says Richard Pare, a British photographer of Soviet modernist architecture who also coordinated the signatories on the letter. “It is the apotheosis of the idea in its supreme manifestation — a work of genius by a man whose life's work was devoted to the benefit of his fellows.”