Stairway to Heaven

With each new draft—one more improvident than the last—Boris Iofan allowed the Palace of the Soviets to float higher into an illusory realm.

“Every architect’s career,” writes Deyan Sudjic, “is based to a greater or lesser extent on the skill with which they perform the survival dance with the rich, the powerful, and the famous.” An instructive example: David Chipperfield, recipient of the 2023 Pritzker Prize, was one of several prominent Western European architects to suspend business ties with Russia after it launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine the previous year. The protestation, which ended up costing Chipperfield’s office upwards of $1.5 million in Moscow billings, belied a prior willingness to cozy up to a de facto police state that had already displayed a belligerent attitude toward its southern neighbor in 2014. To wit: Chipperfield’s accountants admitted in a February 2023 losses report that before the invasion they had eyed Putin’s Russia as a source for…

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