Part 18 of a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month
Nina Alexandrovna Aleshina (1924-2012) studied music and architecture before graduating in 1950 with her degree from the Moscow Institute of Architecture. After working for a time with an architect who was involved with big government projects in the capital like the metro and the Seven Sisters, she also engaged large civic projects, including the metro system, for which she was the chief architect from 1981-1991.
Also author of a book on the metro system, Aleshina is listed as the lead architect of nineteen specific stations, for which she provided designs and oversaw construction, beginning with the Vorobyovy Gory station in 1959 and beyond the Chkalovskaya station of 1983 (above). While certain functional commonalities exist among them all, each remains a highly individualized design. As a group, the stations reveal a broad material palette: concrete, brick, tile, granite, aluminum, bronze, and marble of every imaginable color. Lighting systems vary from large and showy custom-made hanging lamps to sleek hidden fixtures. As a significant part of travelers’ experience, ceilings of the platform areas received special attention. Each station revealed a specific and unique aesthetic, many drawn from recognizable Soviet themes: patterns drawn from Ryazan embroidery and other folk motifs, nature scenes featuring bears and reindeer, and homages to famous Russians like the chemist whose work prefiguring the periodic table is portrayed in cast panels and a famous aviator whose namesake station features stylized welded elements, arches and pylons like wings and fuselages. In a more abstract vein, the 1979 Marksistskaya station–one of her personal favorites–was designed to convey the purity and simplicity of Marxist ideology (see it here, here, and here).
Recipient of the state medal For Labor Valor, Aleshina received prestigious awards throughout her career, including designation as Honored Architect of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Knight of the Order of the Badge of Honour.