Yerevan Cascade Complex
Location: Yerevan, Armenia
Architects: Jim Torosyan, Aslan Mkhitaryan and Sargis Gurzadyan
Genre: Modernist, Soviet architecture, former USSR
The original concept for the Cascade belongs to Alexander Tamanian ((1878-1936), the architect responsible for the blueprint for modern Yerevan in the 1920s, but nothing was done about it until quite a long time after his death. Work eventually began on the Cascade in the mid-1970s with most of the funding coming from Moscow. The chief architect now in charge of the undertaking, Armenian-born Jim Torosyan, partially kept to Tamanian’s vision for the project but he also interjected ideas of his own, which included a network of courtyards and open-air gardens, function halls and an internal escalator. The idea was for the place to be used as a kind of cultural centre.
The first phase of the Cascades was completed in 1980 but for reasons that are not 100% clear but likely budget-related, work on the project halted thereafter. A destructive earthquake (1988) and the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), both of which resulted in economic hardship for Armenia, further hindered more work at the time. Work on the Cascade eventually reconvened when an American-Armenian philanthropist and art collector, Gerard L Cafesjian, took over the financial reins and transformed a large part of the structure into art galleries. This second phase of construction/rejuvenation lasted from 2002 until 2009. The project remains unfinished because a third phase involving the construction of a large museum on the top level has barely gotten off the ground and is a long way from being completed.
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