The Fall and Rise of a Great Building
The frenzied plan to make Moscow a great modern city launched by Stalin and Kaganovich in the 1930s was not unprecedented. Baron Hausmann had leveled medieval Paris in the 1870s, and the Bolsheviks’ contemporary Albert Speer was launching similar plans for Nazi Berlin. The destructive glee with which they destroyed old monuments was unleashed first and most notably on the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer in 1931, and the prime real estate that it freed on the banks of the Moscow River was designated for the Palace of the Soviets, slated to become the world’s tallest building. An all-Union architecture competition in 1934 saw the commission to Boris Iofan, whose team began building in 1935. The grand plans were halted forever by the onset of the Great War.