March 4 marks the 141st birthday anniversary of renowned Soviet Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian, who was the author of the general plan of the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Up to now, numerous buildings designed by Tamanian adorn the city and preserve the memory about the great architect.
Tamanian was born in the Russian city of Yekaterinodar (now Krasnodar) in 1878 to the family of banker Hovhhannes Mironovich. He graduated from the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1904. His works portrayed sensitive and artistic neoclassical trends popular in those years. Some of his early works included the mansion of V. P. Kochubey in Tsarskoye Selo, 1911–1912; the house of Prince S. A. Scherbatov in Novinsky Boulevard in Moscow, 1911–1913; the village railway employees housing and the tuberculosis sanatorium at the Prozorovskaya station (now Kratovo) near Moscow, 1913–1923; central workshops of Kazan railway in Lyubertsy, 1916.
He became an Academician of Architecture in 1914, being elected as the Vice-President of the Academy of Arts in 1917.
In 1923 Tamanian moved to Yerevan, heading the new construction effort in the republic. He was the chief engineer of the local Council of People’s Commissars and was a member of the CEC of Soviet Armenia (1925–1936), sponsored the construction industry, designed the layouts of towns and villages including Leninakan (now Gyumri) (1925), Stepanakert (1926), Nor-Bayazet (now Gavar) and Ahta-ahpara (both in 1927), Etchmiadzin (1927–1928), and others. Tamanian created the first general plan of the modern city of Yerevan which was approved in 1924.
Tamanian’s style was instrumental in transforming what was essentially a small provincial city into the modern Armenian capital, a major industrial and cultural center. Neoclassicism dominated his designs but Tamanian also implemented a national flavor (red linings of tuff, traditional decorative carvings on stone etc.).
Among his most famous designs in Yerevan are the hydroelectric station (1926), the Opera and Ballet Theater named after A. Spendiarian (1926–1953), the Republic Square (1926–1941) and others. He also played a major role in the development of restoration projects of historical landmarks in the country, chairing the Committee for the Protection of Historic Monuments in Armenia.
Tamanian was married to Camilla Edwards, a member of the Benois family. Their sons Gevorg (Georgi) and Yulius Tamanians also became noted architects and continued their father’s work.
Tamanian died in Yerevan on February 20, 1936 and is buried at the Komitas Pantheon which is located in the city center of Yerevan.