HISTORY OF SPbGASU: LEADING THE WAY SINCE 1832

St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering is the oldest Russian institution of higher technical education training architects and civil engineers. Its history is inextricably connected with the history of architecture and urban development of our country and St. Petersburg in particular.

The foundation day of the University is April 27 (May 9, O.S.), 1832, when by Emperor Nicholas I Order, the College of Civil Engineers (UGI*) was established in affiliation with the Main Directorate of Transport Routes and Public Buildings Administration. Its first Director was Lieutenant General of the Corps of Communication Engineers F.A. Kozen (1832–1840).

The Order for establishing the College of Civil Engineers, and Emperor Nicholas I (portrait from SPbGASU)

The UGI was established as an educational institution in civil engineering, the graduates of which would be able to solve architectural and construction tasks. In 1830, an Architect College had been established in affiliation with the Academy of Arts, and there the stress was on architectural and artistic design, while the education at the UGI focused on engineering and technical aspects.

The Institute and its library, about 1890

UGI students were sponsored at the account of provinces’ contributions and were obliged to return to their provinces for six-year tenures, after which they could take positions of bound settlers and architects. The first class of graduates consisted of eleven civil engineers; the graduation took place in 1836. Little more engineers had been trained in the following six years of the College existence. Graduates were sent to work in provinces as road engineers, and only a few of them would stay for service in St. Petersburg. Since the 1840s, graduates of the new educational institution started to take active part in the construction development of the Russian capital city. However, pretty soon, the drawbacks of such constricted specialization became quite clear, and in 1842, the UGI and the Architect College were merged into the Civil Engineering College affiliated with the Main Directorate of Transport Routes and Public Buildings (SU) for training multifaceted civil engineers with broad architectural and civil engineering expertise.

Workshop at the Institute, about 1890

In 1851, the College was transferred to the first class of educational institutions of the Russian Empire, i.e., institutions of higher engineering education. Since 1877, its graduates were awarded with the title of civil engineer in the rank of 11th or 10th class (up until 1884, the latter corresponded to the military ranks of junior captain and staff captain of cavalry). Those who graduated with the 10th (higher) rank were also awarded with the Civil Engineer Sign. In December 1882, by the Emperor Alexander III order, the SU was granted the status of the Institute of Civil Engineers (IGI), and in December 1892, it was named after the Emperor Nicholas I.

IGE students at the end of the 19th century

In 1882 – 1918, more than 1500 specialists graduated from the institute. In 1906, the Institute established a specialized architectural department. Up until 1917, 360 civil engineers had erected in St. Petersburg more than two thousand buildings, one fourth of all historical St. Petersburg. Quite a few of them had authored numerous buildings: e.g., I.I. Shaposhnikov (20); R.B. Berngard (40); I.S. Kitner (60).

IGI (SPbGASU), about 1897

The creative work of IGI graduates had, to a big extent, outlined the architectural look of St. Petersburg on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A graduate of 1859, architect I.S. Kitner, representative of the “brick style,” got his fame as the creator of the Agriculture Museum In Solaynoy Lane and the Palm Green House in the Botanic Garden. A 1901 graduate N.V. Vasiliyev made it into history as one of the authors of the “Russian Modern” and the creator of the unique St. Petersburg cathedral mosque on Kronverksky Avenue. His classmate M.M. Peretyatkovich could magnificently combine modern with medieval motives when creating such masterpieces as the Catholic Church in Kovensky Lane and presently non-existent Church of the Savior-over-the-Waters in the Admiralty Embankment. 1885 graduate G.V. Baranovsky wrote new bright pages of the Yeliseyev Merchants’ shops and other edifices he had build for this famous merchant family in the architecture of the two capitals.

By the turn of the 19th century, the Institute of Civil Engineers got to be the major Russian higher school training specialists in the sphere of architecture and civil engineering. It became an acknowledged center of engineering expertise and civil engineering sciences. Prior to WWI, the Institute had already 800 students, with 4-5 applicants competing for each seat. A sustainable and fruitful school, harmonically combining engineering and architectural and artistic training had taken shape.

Fedor Shalyapin visits the Institute of Civil Engineers

In the post-revolutionary yeas, in line with the historical turns in the country, the Institute had changed its name several more times (LIGI, LIKS, LIIKS, LISI*). However, it had remained the leading educational center in the sphere of architecture and civil engineering.

Institute graduates had designed the general development plans of Moscow (V.N. Semyonov) and Leningrad (L.A. Ilyin); they authored architectural projects of palaces of culture and movie theaters (A.I. Gegello and D.L. Krichevsky), schools (B.R. Rubanenko and A.A. Yunger), other public buildings, and residential houses and complexes of apartment buildings in the new districts of our city (L.A. Ilyin and A.A. Ol’).

100th anniversary of the Institute foundation

 IGI graduate and LIIKS teacher L.A. Ilyin (1880–1942) had been the Chief Architecture of Leningrad (1925–1938). Leaders of the Soviet constructivism the Vesnin brothers (A.A., V.A, and L.A.), two of whom were graduates of the Institute, had developed the design of the Palace of Labor (1923), took part in the universal contest for the best design of the Palace of the Soviets (1932) in Moscow and designed the Dnieper HPS (1927–1932) in Ukraine.

On the eve of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), the Institute was renamed again into the Leningrad Civil Engineering and Construction Institute (LISI*). In the years of the Great Patriotic War, more than 950 undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers, and other LISI staff, and most of 1941 graduates, including 150 young women, went to the front, served at hospitals and medical and sanitary battalions, and in the aircraft defense units of our city.

LISI students and professors during the Great Patriotic War

The city Chief Architect (1938–1950), LISI graduate N.V. Baranov organized disguising of the vital Leningrad facilities and the design of light and permanent bomb-proof shelters. This was a highly professional job, in no way it could be done by just volunteers.

Professors V.G. Gevirts, V.F. Ivanov, G.V. Nikitin, I. G. Popov, V.N. Sokolovsky and others inspected objects damaged by air and artillery shells. Under direct artillery bombing, S.N. Davydov, D.A. Kucharyants, M.M. Nalimova, K.D. Khalturin, O.N. Shilina and others measured many architectural monuments. Thanks to their heroic efforts, the demolished architectural memorials could be restored after the war within a very short period of time.

More than 220 people died at the front, from starvation in besieged Leningrad, during the evacuation. The victims of food shortage and artillery bombardments in the siege were: professors V.V. Arnold, B.M. Ashe, G.D. Grimm, L.A. Ilyin, N.P. Pavlyuk, V.D. Rothgolts, N.A. Tyrsa, L.P. Shishko; associate professors M. P. Vinogradov, G. D. Dutov; assistants G. L. Dyakonov, E. N. Kaporullin and many others. Their names are listed in the Book of Memory, which is kept in the Museum of History of the University.

LISI in the evacuation in Barnaul

After the war, the Institute graduates developed the draft Master Plan of Leningrad (N. V. Baranov, V. A. Kamensky, A. I. Naumov), architectural projects of the Oktyabrsky Concert Hall (G. P. Morozov and others), the ensemble of Victory Square with the Monument to the heroic defenders of the city ( architect S. B. Speransky, A. Kamensky, sc. M. K. Anikushin), Pribaltiiskaya Hotel (N. N. Baranov and others), and a whole constellation of the Leningrad metro stations (Avtovo, Baltiyskaya, Gorkovskaya, Grazhdansky Prospekt, Elizarovskaya, Kirovsky Zavod, Moskovskaya, Narvskaya, Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo, Polytechnicheskaya, Technologichesky Institute) and others.

Pribaltiiskaya Hotel

In 1992, in connection with restitution of the historical name of the city, LISI was renamed in St. Petersburg Institute of Civil Engineering (SPbISI*, 1992-1993). About the same time, the Institute had cardinally expanded the scope of disciplines and areas of expertise taught, and on June 22, 1993, it was granted the university status and its present name: St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPbGASU*). Altogether, the University has had nine names (UGI-SU-IGI-LIGI-LIKS-LIIKS-LISI-SPbISI-SPbGASU*) but one life.

S. M. Kirov Hall of Culture

In its entire history, the University has trained nearly 70 thousand specialists, including about three thousand specialists for 50 countries of the world. Its graduates have made a major contribution in solving city planning and construction tasks in St. Petersburg-Leningrad-St. Petersburg, Russia as a whole, and many foreign countries, and keep doing this work in our days.

The geography of civil engineering activities of the University graduates is vast and huge. Not only they had contributed to the images of both Russian capitals, but many other cities of Russia and the USSR: Arkhangelsk, Baku, Vitebsk, Vinnitsa, Vladivostok, Dnepropetrovsk, Zheleznovodsk, Kiev, Chisinau, Nizhny Novgorod, Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, Odessa, Orenburg, Poltava, Riga, Saratov, Smolensk, Tiflis, Tomsk, Khabarovsk, Kharkov, Chita. Our graduates had worked in such countries as USA, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, China, Chile, Haiti, Puerto Rico and others.

The university today is a major educational and scientific center, the only university in the North-West Federal District of the Russian Federation that provides comprehensive training for specialists in the fields of civil engineering, architecture, transport, and environmental engineering systems. SPbGASU is the backbone higher education institution of the Educational-Methodological Association of Higher Education Institutions of the Russian Federation in the field of civil engineering in the North-West Federal District, which sets the standards of education in the field of civil engineering and architecture.

 * All abbreviations are provided in transliteration from the Russian alphabet.

Факультеты

  • Faculty of environmental engineering and municipal services
    Faculty of environmental engineering and municipal services
  • Faculty of automobile and road-building
    Faculty of automobile and road-building
  • Faculty of economics and management
    Faculty of economics and management
  • Faculty of architecture
    Faculty of architecture
  • Faculty of civil engineering
    Faculty of civil engineering
  • Faculty of forensic investigation and law in construction and transport
    Faculty of forensic investigation and law in construction and transport
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