PhotostoryFebruary 10/2023
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The Palace on the Plani Glukh — the Corncob

The Youth Palace was an endless labyrinth. There you could swim, listen to rock music in the green bar, get acquainted with someone, fall in love, have a first date at a revolving restaurant, decide on a wedding day, schedule an appointment with the Civil Status Acts Registration Agency, and get married. The Palace was to serve as a gathering place for young people from different republics to interact, organize symposia and festivals, do sports, and stay in the hotel operating in the building. The Youth Palace had three architects: Hrachya Poghosyan, Arthur Tarkhanyan, and Spartak Khachikyan.

We talked to the architect Hrachya Poghosyan, the head of the "Armenian State Project" Grigor Azizyan, the employees at the Youth Palace — the leader of the "Ayas" band Arthur Mitinyan, the accountant of the Palace Emma Simonyan, the builder Ashot Sargsyan, the violinist of the green bar Armen Asryan, the cook's assistant Valer Galstyan, the administrator of the Palace Ruzanna Vrtanesyan, the swimming pool director and trainer Armen Shirakyan. We also met architect Arthur Tarkhanyan’s daughter — Anahit Tarkhanyan, as well as Artashes Shahverdyan and Zoya Raskin, who married in 1984 in the Palace. Their first musical was staged in the Palace.

We merged all of their thoughts and turned them into one whole, like the Palace.

Hrachya Poghosyan

We were three architects working together. We were sitting together when we put the lids of the cans on top of each other and lined up the hotel. A better solution than this was impossible to find.

A prototype of the Youth Palace made with can lids.

Anahit Tarkhanyan

The task was very simple, but at the same time, very difficult because it was necessary to group all that in one area.

Ashot Sargsyan

The building was called the "Palace of Youth". It was the construction name of the building, which later became an address with its postal code. People used to say "kukuruz" (corn), not "kukuruznik", and we used to say кипятильник (immersion heater). It looks like it, doesn’t it?

From the book of the architectural historian and professor Karen Balyan, "A. Tarkhanyan, S. Khachikyan, H. Poghosyan: Architecture of Soviet Modernism".

Arthur Mitinyan

October 6, 1979: that day we played three songs in the Palace — "Citizen of the 20th Century", "Borderline of the Centuries", and "You Can't Ever". During the opening three days, 16 rock bands played.

Member of the rock band "Ayas" (from the archive of Arthur Mitinyan)

Artashes Shahverdyan

The guests wanted to have champagne and congratulate us. Everyone was looking at us, asking questions about love: how did we meet, when, and where?

Hrachya Poghosyan

The length of the large pool was 25 meters; the width was 14 meters. One part had a place to jump with a height of 5 meters.

Inside the Youth Palace (from the archive of Anahit Tarkhanyan)
From the archive of Armenian Project OJSC

Armen Shirakyan

Two people came to swim. They made a bet on who would swim the 25 meters faster. The first one reached the end and got out. The second one had two meters left; he didn’t manage. He had swallowed a lot of water, I quickly pulled him out, gave him mouth-to-mouth, and he came back.

Valer Galstyan

I was at work. A man brought a chest and said. "Bro, keep it. I’ll take it later." I kept it for a week. I kept it for a month. I kept it for six months. No one came. I opened it. There was only one anchor in it. I liked it a lot and took it for myself. After that, I started to collect anchors.

Anahit Tarkhanyan

Young people really wanted to get married in the church, but it was forbidden. So the architects created a Wedding Hall in the Palace.

In front of the Youth Palace, 1984 (from the archive of Artashes Shahverdyan)

Hrachya Poghosyan

In front of the hotel, we sketched out a Wedding Hall with a big arch. The facade was decorated with colored glass. Each component in the building had its own remarkableness.

Artashes Shahverdyan

When Goharik and I, our relatives, arrived at the Palace, there were 12 couples. A grandmother and a grandfather were among them: they were celebrating their golden wedding. The organizer of the whole event was the Civil Status Acts Registration Agency of the “Corncob”.

Artashes Shahverdyan with his wife Gohar on their wedding day at the Youth Palace (from the archive of A. Shahverdyan)

Armen Asryan

I played in several places. I finished quickly and went to the "zelyoni" (the green bar). The customers knew us, and just by looking at their faces, we understood whether they came for us or someone else.

Anahit Tarkhanyan

There was open space everywhere, then one could see exhibition halls, bars, cafes, restaurants, and various club rooms. The ceiling resembled a starry sky.

From the archive of Anahit Tarkhanyan
From the archive of Anahit Tarkhanyan

Anahit Tarkhanyan

It was the first cafe of its kind in the territory of the Soviet Union. The window panes had a slope, and if you looked forward, your gaze turned toward the city.

Zoya Raskin

After our performance, the parents decided to continue our fun and reserved tables for us right in the revolving cafe. We ate, played, and ran there. Who would have thought that one day the Palace would not exist?

A musical performance in the hall of the Youth Palace in 1986 (from the archive of Zoya Raskin).

Valer Galstyan

I remember very well: various dishes were prepared there: borscht, buckwheat, pea soup. The orders of the Armenians differed. They were mostly ordering barbecue, kebab, and kufta.

Hripsime Avagyan

My mom has rejected my dad all the time. And the dad has decided to invite my mom for a date to the revolving cafe. It has been their first meeting.

The revolving cafe (from the archive of Anahit Tarkhanyan)

Hrachya Poghosyan

The idea of a revolving cafe popped into our minds at once. We turned to the engineer son of the academician. There was a possibility to put wheels on a small height and spin them. It was entirely on electric motors. There were two spinning rails on the ground and underneath the cafe floor — rubber-wrapped spinning wheels.

Ruzanna Vrtanesyan

I have been an administrator for 11 years since the opening. I received the best employee of the year certificate of honor twice. We began working at ten o'clock and returned at ten the next day. Most of the time, I took my daughter Zara with me. She was sleeping in hotel rooms. I took her with me until the fourth grade. I spent my entire youth in the Youth Palace.

From the archive of the architect Hrachya Poghosyan

Artashes Shahverdyan

Our certificates were mixed up, but we soon found ours. Then we went to the square and put flowers on the statue of Lenin.

Anahit Tarkhanyan

It was not just a building but a monument to free Armenia. My father, Arthur Tarkhanyan, loved and admired this monument very much. He dreamed of the day when Armenia would be free.

From the book of Karen Balyan, "A. Tarkhanyan, S. Khachikyan, H. Poghosyan: Architecture of Soviet Modernism".

Hrachya Poghosyan

There were balconies in front of each room. We decided to design those balconies, and the building resembled the corncob. I’m humbled to say that the design of the balconies was my idea.

Zoya Raskin

I was thirteen when our musical premiered at our school. It had success. After a while, the director said: "Get ready. We have a performance at the concert hall of the Youth Palace." Of course, it was a different level because the tickets for our musical were already sold out.

The Youth Palace today
Inside the Youth Palace

Hrachya Poghosyan

A hall with a thousand seats, an amphitheater — we made a tin roof. We got a form of a ball, and when we poured water on it, we had a space of 30 meters in diameter. We installed an elevator above the hall so people could access the pool above the amphitheater.

Artashes Shahverdyan

Then we all went to the park across the street, where there were neither trees nor flowers nor the statue of Aivazovsky and planted trees. The tree we planted is still there. It has two big branches, and we have two sons.

Employees of the Youth Palace, from the archive of "Inter" club jazzman Garik Kyosayan

Grigor Azizyan

If we want to figure out why the Palace was destroyed, we can hardly find the answer.

As the authors of the building, we do not know who decided that the construction is not earthquake resistant and should be demolished. It was a huge blow for us. We fought to keep it from being demolished, but it was sold for a ridiculous amount in the end.

I made several suggestions to the owner that would help to solve the problem and not demolish the building, but he wanted to build the 8th wonder.

The main photo is from the archive of Anahit Tarkhanyan