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Derzhprom (Building of State Industry)

In 1925 when the site of the square was being planned an area of three blocks in its inner circle was allotted for Derzhprom — the first high-rise reinforced concrete and frame construction in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the all-Union competition of designs for the gigantic building was announced. After a thorough study of drawings, the first award was given to the ‘Uninvited Guest’ project, designed by Leningrad architects S. Serafimov, S. Kravets, M. Felhert.

The construction of an enormous building started immediately when the funding was provided, and was supervised by engineer P. Rottert. To provide for an efficient management, all the services and offices were located in a one-storey wooden barrack very close to the construction site. Amendments were introduced on an every day basis: the landscape was adjusted, the facade details and interiors design of the future building were specified. The building was designed to house 22 republican trusts, 10 People’s Commissariats, the Prombank (Industrial Bank) Board of Directors and other institutions, as well as conference halls and a technological library.

An enormous, even by modern standards, multi-storey concrete and frame construction with 45,000 window openings and 17 hectares of glazing was erected within an exceptionally short period of 1925–1928.

While the construction was underway, Kharkiv was visited by many writers, including H. Barbusse, T.  Dreiser, V. Mayakovsky. Of course, the construction was under the total control of the Soviet government and, in particular, of F. Dzerzhynsky whose name the Square bore for a long time.

In the late 1920s, a short address line ‘Kharkiv, Derzhprom’ became known in many parts of the country. With the design of its facades, amazing harmony of simple forms and perfection of its proportions, it stands out of a range of buildings constructed before it. It did not only become a pride and a visiting card of Kharkiv, but also a monument of architecture of national significance.

In 1934, when Kiev regained its status of a capital, the governmental institutions moved from Derzhprom, and the building became home to Kharkiv Region Executive Committee and other institutions.

During World War II, the building survived due to its massive concrete and frame constructions. A story goes that the only inhabitants of Derzhprom at that time were monkeys escaped from the zoo and sheltered there from cold.

In May 1951, the first Soviet TV station was opened in Derzhprom. An antenna was fixed on the upper floor of the central part of the building. The top of the antenna was 90 metres from the ground, which allowed for the broadcasting within a radius of 30 kilometres. For several years this TV centre had been functioning with the equipment created by enthusiasts — employees of Kharkiv enterprises, until specialised industrial facilities were installed. The creation of a professional TV centre by local radio amateurs was so astonishing that delegations from the whole Soviet Union started to come here to gain the experience.

Being the first Soviet skyscraper, Derzhprom now houses administrative bureaus of various branches of economy, while the building itself is under restoration which is held in several steps.