By Anna Saghabalian and Nane Atshemian
Yerevan’s ex-chief architect admitted today that some of the construction designs he had authorized were later distorted.
Narek Sarkisian, with whom the most controversial construction projects in the Armenian capital in recent years are connected, in particular admitted that he had signed the permission for the construction work in the area near the House of Chamber Music, which became a matter of serious controversy between the House’s administration and the developer last week, but added: “I am sure some deviations have been made from the original design.”
Sarkisian expressed the opinion that distortions were made also in the originally approved plan of construction near the Opera House, an area in central Yerevan now replete with open-air cafes and other nightspots.
One of the main authors of today’s architectural alterations in Yerevan, Sarkisian currently oversees the construction project in Northern Avenue, a new downtown thoroughfare envisaged as a modern boulevard lined with shops, office buildings and up-market housing.
Sarkisian regrets the fact that this project is surrounded by an atmosphere of controversy today as he believes that the appearance of such an avenue is “the 80-year-old dream of Yerevan residents”.
To RFE/RL’s observation that the emerging buildings in the avenue more resemble the high-rise buildings of the Stalin period than modern city constructions, Sarkisian said: “Unfortunately, I must agree with you in the main.”
“I never considered the work of the chief architect to be a post or a job that is done temporarily by someone who after quitting it no longer bears responsibility,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL.
Sarkisian, who quit the post of the chief architect in 2004, is not satisfied with the latest decision made by the Architectural Council of Yerevan regarding the center of Yerevan – the idea of turning the section leading from Abovian Street to the Head Post Office into a so-called “Old Yerevan” district.
He says that as a member of this council he was the only one who opposed the location of the historical district in that part.
Meanwhile, the city authorities promise that the area will be turned into a boulevard where people will walk in an environment typical of early 20th-century Yerevan.
“I hope that the mayor of Yerevan will not be guided by the council’s decision which totally contradicts the master plans of Yerevan of all times and the logic of our city’s development in general,” he said.