THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])
Birth of Anna Ter Avetikian
(October 23, 1908)
This name is probably unfamiliar to the English reader. Anna Ter Avetikian was the first female architect of Armenia and the designer of some recognizable buildings in Yerevan.
She belonged to a family well-known to older inhabitants of the capital of Armenia. The Ter Avetikians had been instrumental in the construction of many historic buildings, such as the small hall of the Philarmonia of Yerevan, the old building of Yerevan State University, and the first hospital of the city, located on Abovian Street. Their efforts had succeeded in the creation of the first drinking water network of Yerevan.
In 1924 Anna Ter Avetikian entered the department of Architecture of the Technical School of Yerevan State University, which became the grounds for the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute in 1933 (now the State Engineering University of Armenia). She graduated in 1930. In 1926, while still a student, she started working in the studios of two renowned architects, Nikoghayos Buniatian and Alexander Tamanian (the author of the master plan of Yerevan and of many of its most characteristic buildings). Later she went to work in design organizations.
The designs of Ter-Avetikian were used for the construction of about forty buildings in Yerevan (schools, residential buildings, and administrative buildings). These included the building of film makers at the corner of Mashtots Avenue and Koriun, where the legendary coffee shop “Ponchikanots” (the ponchik is a kind of donut) and the Mayakovsky School are located.
She married architect Konstantin Hovhannisian (1911-1984), who also worked in the studios of Buniatian and Tamanian in the 1930s, and together they designed the buildings of the Yerevan Police, the Yerevan Fire Station (on Sakharov Square), and the “Sasuntsi Tavit” cinema (demolished in the 1980s). Her husband was the head of the excavations of Arin-Berd (1950-1972) and dug out the remnants of the citadel of Erebuni.
Anna Ter Avetikian was a laureate of the Soviet overviews of female architects in 1938 and 1956, and received a diploma from the international exhibition of Paris, “Women in Art and Popular Creation” in 1938. Her design of the building of film makers earned her the first prize in the all-Soviet competition of female architects of 1948. In 1967 she received a congratulatory note from the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian Republic and in 1968 she became an emeritus architect of Armenia.
She also won recognition and honors from the independent Republic of Armenia: the golden medal “Alexander Tamanian” (2002) and the golden medal “Yerevan” of the Yerevan City Hall. In 2012, at the age of 104, she gave an interview to the news agency Mediamax, in which she said:
“All my buildings are built with national style. That was not only conditioned by traditions, but by seismic and weather conditions, as well as the characteristics of national psychology.
“All cities change, and that’s natural. There are periods of flourishing and decline. However, people build the city and its environment is created thanks to them. The old city has to be maintained; keeping the link of time educates people and ties them to their history and roots.”
Anna Ter Avetikian passed away at the age of 105. Her passing was announced on January 16, 2013, by the news agency A1+.