Ivan Ilyich Leonidov
Lenin Institute of Librarianship
Ivan Leonidov developed his scheme for a research complex as his thesis project at the Vchutemas architecture school in 1927. The Lenin Institute, as it was called, was to house facilities for the furthering of science. It was a striking display of forms tethered by cables and trusses to be situated outside Moscow. The visionary aspects of the project, underscored by an extensive use of glass and structural daring, in many ways summed up and expanded upon developments in Russian architecture.
For all its utopian, modernist imagery, the Lenin Institute is a building which looks to the Russian past as well as future. Elements of its composition, though seemingly abstract, relate back to the tradition of Russian iconography and church architecture. The Russian revolution in 1917 broke with these values by replacing allegiance to church and czar with a new faith in a rational society. However, in the case of Leonidov’s Lenin Institute, aspects of this tradition were transformed to convey new ideals. Indeed, read as an icon to a new faith, the Lenin Institute gives a new meaning to spiritual architecture, transforming the mundane into the cosmic.
The New World offered by the Revolution was characterized by both a concept of societal interdependence and cooperation as well as a rationalistic, scientific basis of operation. Marx’s use of scientific principles as a basis of his Manifesto indicates the stature these principles had attained since the Industrial Revolution. The sciences, having caused the growth of industry in Europe and Russia, now were involved in the ideological transformation of those societies. The use of science was no longer limited to industry; it was now a principle of government.