Youth Palace: Seven years of emptiness in place of former Yerevan landmark

Architects and members of the cultural community are demanding that the Ministry of Culture of Armenia reclaim the site on which the former Yerevan Youth Palace – a Yerevan landmark for decades – stood.

The Palace (known as the “corncob” because of its design) was erected in the 1960 and became a calling card for the Yerevan skyline. It was demolished in 2003 to make room for a proposed hotel that has never materialized.

The building was alienated in return for a debt, and was sold reportedly for $1 million to owner of Avangard Motors Co. Edik Avetisyan. (The sale was protested by architect Anahit Tarkhanyan, daughter of its designer Arthur Tarkhanyan. She claimed that the property was worth $30,000,000.)

The new owner was under obligation to invest $5,000,000 before 2006. So far, although there lot has been cleared, no new construction has appeared. Anahit Tarkhanyan speculates that materials from the demolished building should have fetched at least $3 million.

A tender was held on January 2010 for a design of a new building and attracted some 350 plans from 70 countries. None, however, was chosen.

“The new owner wants to build the eighth wonders of the world, in case when high buildings with such square plans were submitted to the tender. Such plans do not correspond to the Armenian architecture at all,” Tarkhanyan says.

She says that there was an impression as if a plan was done for Chicago or New York, and it was not approved there, it was brought to participate in this tender. Tarkhanyan and colleagues plan to submit a new plan (free of charge), where only the height of the building will be changed and the building will be a little bit wider at the top. However, new investors are needed for the construction of the new building, because at least $30,000,000 will be needed for it.

“We believe that the Armenian Government has the full right to take that land and get our suggestions going, because the owner has not fulfilled his obligations according to the contract, and there is no new plan yet,” Tarkhanyan says.

According to Gevorg Gevorgyan, Director of Avangard Motors Co., no one can comment on this issue, as owner Edik Avetisyan is abroad.