The Building of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences

The construction of the building of the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia (the former administrative building of “Saknakhshiri”) began in 1949. It was preceded by the 1946 contest “Saknakhshiri” administrative house which was planned to be built in the corner of Rustaveli Avenue and the square in Tbilisi. The leading Georgian architects took part in the contest (in total ten projects were presented). In February 1946, the jury considered these projects and gave primacy to the project presented by the architects M. Chkhikvadze and K. Chkheidze. The winning project included all the basic principles that were later implemented in construction. Interestingly, there is an assumption that the composition of the building of the famous Stockholm city hall had a certain influence on the volumetric-spatial solution of the “Sakhnakhshiri” administrative building (1911-1923).

The construction was divided into two parts. The first part of the building was constructed overlooking Rustaveli Avenue, which was almost fully completed in 1953, but the construction was not fully completed even in the 1960s. This refers to a number of issues related to the resolution of inner space and interior design.

The building runs the frontage line of Rustaveli Avenue. The five-story horizontal array to the avenue ends with a high 55-meter-high tower, and the entire front of the first floor facing the avenue is occupied by an open low gallery. In its central part there is an open spatial exit to the yard. The arcade is connected with an advanced part on both sides; towards the square it is a tower and to the avenue – a side risalit, which fulfills the traditional role entrusted to it by the asymmetrical composition completed by the tower – balances the vertical of the tower. That is why it is extended from the main wall plane. The theme of the upper register of its decorative treatment is repeated on the upper floors of the horizontal volume. The building ends with a cornice crowned with a complex, openwork parapet. A cornice crowned with a complex, openwork parapet finishes the building.

The upper part of the tower, marked by a belt, is open with a high airy arch and ends with a stepped frieze. On top of it is a high belvedere, which is crowned with a spire.

The whole building is faced with a pinkish-golden tuff from Bolnisi. The basement and columns of the arch are faced with slightly greenish dark gray granite from Borjomi

The authors of the project connected the two wings of the building (facing the avenue and the square) with a tower in the corner and here they intended to put access stairs connecting the floors and in the upper part of the tower a book depository was planned.

The composition of the avenue or the facade of the main wing is built on the mutual balance of the masses. The horizontal solution of the main mass will be balanced by vertical processing on the one side of the tower, and on the other side with the risalit. The tower and the risalit connect the main masses of the building into one whole and perform the frontal composition of the facade. In the architectural composition of this facade and the building as a whole, special attention is paid to the lower register of the central, horizontally stretched massif of the building – open, set of arches, which creates a spacious exit and connects the avenue with the space of the inner court. Its solution takes well into account the southern conditions and orientation of the building.

During the correlation of the tower with the whole building, the authors of the project relied on a harmonic row of proportions between the tower and horizontally lying masses. Since the frontal perception of the building (the main facade overlooking the avenue is meant) is practically impossible, the main attention was paid to the correlation of fragments of the tower itself, since the tower has always played a major role in the building. it gradually eases from the bottom up. Its array is divided into large vertical holes.

But if the ratio of the horizontal mass of the tower and the building is taken into account, its architectural and artistic treatment is completely different. Neither the treatment of the elements, nor their scale or proportions contributes to the integrity of the architectural design of the entire building. Here, the neglect of the functional side when choosing a tower (as already noted, this tower is mainly the only staircase, a bookstore located above the top, located in the area). If the doors and windows in the horizontal section of the building mainly use utilitarian services, the tower turns into the solution of clear “artistic” tasks. This contradiction between substantive and formal tasks naturally destroyed the overall unity of the building.

The architecture of the “Saknakhshiri”) clearly shows the desire of architects to use national architectural traditions. But to give a national character the décor is mainly used here. During selection of precious stones the unity is not observed. On the facade there are decorative motifs of different sizes or character that are not in a single artistic system. This led to overloading of the facade with decorative elements.

Thus, based on the above mentioned, it can be said that along with interesting compositional techniques in the architecture of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences (the former administrative building “Saknakhshiri”), there is a noticeable contradiction in the solution of functional and artistic tasks that have negatively impacted the overall architectural unity of the building – a typical Georgian architecture of the 40s and 50s of the 20th century.