Vladimir Korol: biography of People’s Architect of USSR

Vladimir Korol: biography of People’s Architect of USSR

Vladimir Korol, People’s Architect of the USSR, was an intellectual, innovator, man of thought and founder of Belarusian town building. He loved Belarus and its capital and tried to make Minsk’s architecture worthy.

The architect was born on December 28, 1912 in the town of Igumen, Minsk Region (today’s Cherven). Vladimir was accustomed to art from his earliest years, he adored drawing. After Vladimir Korol graduated from the Vitebsk Art School in 1931, he worked as a teacher and a headmaster of a school in Dzerzhinsk town.

He studied architecture at Russian Academy of Arts in Leningrad (today’s St. Petersburg) from 1934 to 1941. Many talented architects and pedagogues such as Ivan Fomin, Lev Rudnev, and Iosif Langbard worked at the academy.

Good education inspired Vladimir to dedicate all his life to buildings design and construction. However, World War II started and Mr. Korol joined the people's volunteer army in July 1941. He was a division engineer’s assistant and took part in the defense of the city of Leningrad.

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
According to the order of the General Staff, graduating students were withdrawn from the front line to finish studies. Vladimir Korol was among them. He defended his degree work in December 1941 and was offered a postgraduate course as one of the best academy’s students and Stalin Prize laureate. The academy’s students and lecturers survived were sent to Central Asia in February 1942.

Vladimir Korol returned in liberated, but destroyed by the Nazi invaders Minsk in 1945. The architect’s pencil drawings depict ruins of the city’s architectural monuments. He was appointed head of the architectural workshop at the Belgosproekt Institute, which was engaged in the capital’s center reconstruction.

Vladimir worked in other Belarusian towns as well. A house for Gomselmash company employees in the city of Gomel is one of his best works. A residential house in Polotsk town was also built according to the architect’s design. Vladimir Korol also took part in the competition for the best design of Minsk’s central square from 1946 to 1948.

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
We have a model of Minsk’s central square made by Vladimir Korol and Mikhail Osmolovsky, the head of the architectural department. But none of the projects has been accepted and implemented at that time.

Vladimir Korol designed interiors of Minsk railway station and adorned the building with his plots during its reconstruction in 1946. A dwelling house for employees of a fine-cloths factory at the crossroads of Myasnikova Street and Clara Zetkin Street was built according to Korol’s design in 1947. The house looks spectacular with its moulding, décor, round arches, and balconies even now, many years later. However, it needs renovation and some repairs.

The architect started to work on one of Minsk’s symbols, The Central Post Office, commonly known in Russian as Glavpochtamt, in 1949. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings made in Stalin Empire style. It’s a symbol of the central avenue. By the way, the reverse of the building is worth seeing too.

An all-union open competition was announced in the late forties to create the monument to the Soviet Army soldiers and Belarusian partisans in Minsk. The design of Georgy Zaborsky and Vladimir Korol was voted the best. Such talented sculptors as Zair Azgur, Andrey Bembel, Alexei Glebov, and Sergey Selikhanov worked on the Victory Monument. It was unveiled on June 3, 1954 and became the symbol of revived Minsk.

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus advised architects to create a monument to Joseph Stalin. It was made by the same architects who worked on the Victory Monument. A nine-meter figure of the leader was unveiled in Minsk’s central square on September 22, 1952.

Vladimir Korol had been working as a lecturer and then a head of the Urban Planning Department of the Architectural Faculty at the Belarusian Sate Polytechnic Institute since 1947. He wrote research papers, reports, references, and fundamental works on urban planning.

Vladimir’s talent and efficiency were noticed, so he became the head of the State Committee for Construction under the Council of Ministers of the BSSR.

Vladimir Korol worked in different regions of Belarus. He took part in the construction of new Belarusian towns such as Novolukoml, Novopolotsk, and Soligorsk.

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
In spite of numerous building design competitions, Minsk’s central square had not been built up for a long time. Georgy Sysoyev, an honored architect of Belarus, remembers that Mr. Korol believed there was not any good design to complete the central square’s ensemble. He said he would be ready to leave calmly after such a design appears. Unfortunately, there is no such a design even nowadays.

The Urban Planning Sub Department appeared at the Belarussian State Polytechnic Institute in 1969 thanks to Vladimir Korol, who became its head.

He was a leader and optimist, who could discover the best qualities in every person. He had a strong impact on the youth. Vladimir cultivated love and respect for the profession of architect, ability to think big and to have responsible attitude to Belarusian architecture in his students.

Galina Gorina is one of them. She made designs of the capital’s neighborhoods such as Vostok-1, Serebryanka-9, Loshitsa-3, Sukharevo-1, and Sukharevo-3. Galina remembers student life with warmth and smile.

Galina Gorina, architect, member of Belarusian Union of Architects:
Vladimir Korol didn’t deliver any lectures and was not in charge of any student, because he worked on governmental and public tasks. But he visited us rather often. He always looked young and elegant, walked round the group looking at our masterpieces. My groupmate’s stretcher was leaned. She had India ink, brushes and paints on it. Once, somebody or she herself overturned the cup with India ink, so it ran out on the stretcher and her work. We stand still watching the black blot flowing over the stretcher and the tears flowing down the groupmate’s cheeks. Mr. Korol shouted: “With your tongue”. We didn’t understand what was happening. Then, Vladimir Korol came to the stretcher and licked the huge blot off.

Vladimir Korol was awarded the title of People's Architect of the USSR in 1970.

He was also an editor of Belarusian Construction and Architecture magazine.

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
He took part in UN Home Inspection work, was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (bolsheviks) in Belarus and received delegations coming to Minsk. There are some photos where Mr. Korol shows the area near Victory Square to Georges Pompidou, the prime minister of France. Galina, Vladimir’s wife, remembered her dancing with Mr. Pompidou.

Vladimir Korol had been living in Zakharova Street for a long time. The memorial plate is a kind of the famous dweller’s pass. We know him as an eminent architect, but Irina Korol knows him as the best father.

There is a gallery of watercolor landscapes made by Vladimir in the house. Irina was born in the postwar Minsk and she recollects her childhood and strolls along the Dinamo stadium with enthusiasm. She, her father and the elder brother liked fishing or walking in a forest where they picked up mushrooms and lit a fire.

Irina Korol, a daughter of Vladimir Korol, People’s Architect of the USSR:
My father adored children and animals. He was very endearing. I can’t remember him raising his voice. Maybe only when we were naughty.

The capital’s planning and manifold designs took a great part of Vladimir’s time. Nevertheless, he always found time for rest. He jogged and made his children accustomed to morning exercises. Irina took up basketball and her brother Igor decathlon. However, both followed the father’s footsteps and got architectural education.

Irina Korol, a daughter of Vladimir Korol, People’s Architect of the USSR:
He couldn’t pass by if he saw something being constructed wrong. He passed his opinion freely and people considered it.

The Ministry of Architecture and Construction instituted the award named after Vladimir Korol in the 1990s.

A school in Cherven, Vladimir’s native town, is also named after the architect. There is a memorial plate in honor of the famous graduate on the building of the former Vitebsk Art School. A street in Minsk was named after V.Korol (earlier Obuvnaya Street).

Galina Shostak, chief scientist of the Belarusian State Archives of Scientific and Technical Documentation:
I think People’s Architect of the USSR, Governmental Prize laureate, a man who contributed to Minsk reconstruction, supported architecture of Belarus and Minsk deserves better memory immortalization. He lived in Zakharova Street. Maybe we can rename some small street somewhere in the area of Pervomaiskaya Street or Biaduli Street.

This is the eternal memory Vladimir Korol, one of the most talented architects in Minsk, left to us.