Norman Bel Geddes Database
Job 203, Ukrainian State Theatre, 1930-1932
Concurrent with his work for the Architectural Commission of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, Bel Geddes entered a Soviet-era international competition to build a State Ukrainian Theatre at Kharkov.
Geddes submitted a plan incorporating three auditoriums: an indoor one seating 4,000; an open-air one seating 2,000; and one for mass meetings with a stage for 5,000 actors and 60,000 audience members.
A May 7, 1931 article in the New York Times reported that the editor of New York City’s oldest Russian daily, Novoye Russkoye Slovo, thought Geddes’s design for underground parking for 650 cars impractical, pointing out that, at the time, there were fewer than half a dozen cars in the city of Kharkov.
Three Americans—Alfred Kestner, Eric Engerder, and Carl Meyer—shared the first prize with German and Ukrainian competitors, each receiving 8,000 rubles. Geddes was awarded a second prize totaling $770.22 U.S., paid to him in 1932. Geddes maintained that many elements of his design were actually incorporated into the built theater.
Hunter Code: TH 38
Hunter Guide: page 195