JURIJS VASILJEVS AND THE HISTORY OF LATVIAN ARCHITECTURE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY (Jurijs Vasiljevs un 20. gs. otras puses Latvijas arhitekturas vestures zinatne)
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On January 8, 1998, the Latvian architect and architectural specialist Jurijs Vasiljevs (1928-1993) would have celebrated his 70th birthday. A monumental research project to which Vasiljevs devoted his entire life, all of his knowledge and experience - The History of Latvian Architecture - was never completed nor published. This enormous work was divided up into various subjects, and it included more than 40 scientific papers and two important books. Vasiljevs was interested in individual architectural monuments and ensembles, in the structure of city planning and building in Latvia, in various architectural styles, and in the work of master builders and architects. Jurijs Vasiljevs joined the ranks of architectural specialists in 1951. A critical reevaluation of the country's architectural treasures in a spirit of vulgar sociological interpretation was seen as the foundation for Socialist architecture. Vasiljevs successfully defended his Candidate of Science dissertation at the end of 1955, and he was assigned to take over the development of the topic. Vasiljevs had enormous academic abilities, and the research work took on an entirely new quality. The work continued even after the Institute of Architecture and Construction was closed down in 1963. After 1985, when Vasiljevs was working at the Andrejs Upits Institute of Language and Literature, he proposed the establishment of a collective research project, 'Art During the Feudal Period in Latvia'. At the same time he was working on a book-length research project, 'Architectural Specifics of Latvia's Cities during the Period of Feudalism'. In the last report on his scientific work, covering the period between 1991 and 1993, he wrote: 'A factual and methodological foundation has been established for a fundamental research on Latvian architecture and urban construction, and it would be important to complete this work, receiving financing for the period 1994-1996, because the true significance of the Latvian architectural and urban construction heritage has never been reflected in a broader context.
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