Alexander Yaron

А. И. Ярон

Alexander J. Yaron (1874–1935) 

Александр Иванович ЯРОН (1874–1935). Русский текст внизу страницы ⬇

Born in Petersburg province, December 28, 1874. Died in Shanghai, February 18, 1935.

Before coming to Shanghai, Yaron had a fruitful career in Estonia; several of his military and public buildings still grace the streets of Tallinn. During that period, "several first and other prizes were won by Mr. Yaron in international competitions for the design of theatres, clubs and other public buildings."

Having joined the White Army as a military engineer, Yaron sailed from Vladivostok with the defeated White Fleet and landed in Shanghai at the end of 1922. In February 1923, he joined the firm of the Spanish architect Abelardo Lafuente and was involved in designing the dining room of the Majestic Hotel. In the same year, he also worked on the new ballroom in the hotel's annex. Following the success of this assignment, Yaron became partner in the firm, renamed Lafuente & Yaron. In 1924, Yaron designed Linda Terrace on Avenue Joffre – one of the earliest lane compounds in the central French Concession, which marked the beginning of the Russian tenancy in that area. Around the same year, he designed another terrace compound on Avenue Joffre and the residence of Mr. Ramos.

In 1925–1926, as part of Lafuente & Yaron, he "worked on the design of several churches for the interior of China, a cathedral for Foochow, two apartment buildings, the Kincheng Banking Corporation on Kiangse Road, and several other buildings," including the design of the "hai-alai auditorium in the Italian renaissance style". The firm created plans for the restoration of Shanghai's Kalee Hotel and Canton's Hotel Shameen. Altogether, by his own statement, between 1924 and 1927, A. J. Yaron created 14 buildings and supervised the construction of some of them. Yaron's son, named John, was an employee of the firm too. 

In spring 1927, plans for the construction of a new mosque to replace the 40-year-old building on Chekiang Road were described as follows: “The new mosque is projected of the latest Ottoman period of Mahommedan cult buildings, with a central dome over very original pentagonal plan. The exterior architecture is of Egyptian-Arabian style with characteristic minaret of the Cairo mosques with majestic main entrance and beautiful light gallery, a reproduction of the Patio de los Leones at Alhambra, Granada, facing the present cemetery. The interior will be fully decorated with original tiles imported from Spain. The ground floor will be similar of the Cordoba mosque and the first floor will reproduce one of the galleries of the Alcazar, in Sevilla.” (Perez) The project was not realized. 

In early 1927, Lafuente left for the USA, taking with him the project of a large beach hotel for San Francisco, which became Yaron's last work for the firm. In May 1928, Yaron started to work independently under the name A. J. Yaron 协隆洋行. That year, he designed two residences for Chinese officials and a large godown (warehouse) on East Broadway for the firm of D. G. M. Aronovsky. He also built a complex of villas on Rue Bourgeat, one of which served as his residence until he donated it to the Russian church-run St. Tichon's Orphanage. 

On June 17, 1930, the Spanish Recoletos Procuration moved into their new premises at 6 Rue Moliere, designed by Yaron in the Spanish style. The next year, another Spanish Catholic mission – the Augustinian Procuration – received new headquarters on Avenue Road, which might have been Yaron's design as well. In the same year, Yaron built the Bishop Apartments for the Russian clergy, on Route Lorton, with a temporary church and a bell tower, and began supervising the construction of the Russian Orthodox St. Nicholas Church, on Rue Corneille. 

Yaron's final work was the Ministry of Communications in Nanking, which he had designed ten years prior and which took 4 years to build. The building was finished in October 1934 and called "the largest and the most magnificent building in the capital." "The ornate structure, which has a frontage of 400 feet on Chungshan Road and which cost $2,500,000, with its Chinese style facades and tinted pale green roof made a splendid addition to the Government row in the capital." Its destruction in 1937, during the Japanese armed invasion of Nanking, was lamented as "an architectural tragedy."

Yaron favored neoclassicism and despised eclectic and modernist styles. None of his buildings are in the art deco style popular in the 1930s. Modernist buildings commonly ascribed to him – Petain Apartments (1928) and Washington Apartments (1932) – were designed by the staff architects of the Fonciere d'Extreme Orient, while the West Park Mansions (1926) was the project of the Palmer & Turner. 

Alexander Yaron died of pneumonia, in 1935. He was survived by his third wife and five children. The writer Lev Grosse recorded his passing in the poetic obituary Flowers of Death:
“The noisy night keeps Shanghai carefree.
Street lamps are bright above the crowd.
The cars are roaring. Howling... Screaming...
The world appears to be have gone mad. 

The hospital in semi-darkness,
White death is lurking in the door.
He’ll pounce upon the suffering patient,
And drink his life, and leave him dead.” 

A. J. Yaron’s oldest son John (Ivan) (b. 1903) trained as an architect and worked with his father, representing A. J. Yaron's firm in Nanking in 1932–1935; in 1958 he moved to Brazil.

Dining Room of the Majestic Hotel


Ballroom of the majestic Hotel 


linda Terrace, Avenue Joffre


Ramos residence, Darroch Road


Kincheng Bank, Kiangse Road


Arabic Mosque, Chekiang Road

1925 (unrealized)

Catholic Cathedral, Foochow

1925 (unrealized)

Augustinian Recoletos church, Kweitehfu

1925 (unrealized?)

Apartments, Bubbling Well Road

1926 (unrealized?)

Central Mansions, Bubbling Well Road


Beach Hotel, San Francisco

1927 (unrealized?)

Aronovsky godown, East Broadway


Hai-Alai Auditorium, Avenue du Roi albert

1929 (unrealized)

Villas, Rue Bourgeat

c. 1931

wang boqun's residence


recoletos Procuration, Rue Moliere


bishop Apartments, Route Paul Henri


st. Nicholas church, Rue Corneille


Ministry of Communications, Nanking


Known works by A. J. Yaron

Yaron’s surviving buildings in Shanghai

Александр Иванович ЯРОН (1874–1935) – нажмите, чтобы прочитать

Биография составляется.

Цитата из Левошко С. С.: "Всеобъемлющи комментарии творческого метода архитектора А. И. Ярона, признанного мастера интернационального Шанхая 1920– 1930-х гг., сделанные литератором, общественным деятелем и другом зодчего И. И. Куниным. По его словам, «Ярон в своем архитектурном искусстве был безусловный „классик“. Но назвать его традиционалистом, консерватором — неверно. Его проекты зачастую были по-настоящему смелы и неожиданны, хотя теоретически всякое уклонение в послевоенное „новаторство“ он вполне определенно рассматривал как отсутствие настоящего профессионального образования и незнание архитектурных форм. Архитектурный аскетизм начала ХХ века расценивал как игнорирование художественной стороны проекта». В то же время архитектор «резко осуждал беспринципное заимствование „кусочками“ из каждого стиля и их механическое смешение. А. И. с необычайной выразительностью высмеивал т. н. „лоскутную архитектуру“ с ее нагромождением декоративных элементов вне гармонической связи с самими сооружением и его конструктивными основами».


Newspaper announcement of the construction of Recoletos mission building, at today's 6 Xiangshan Road 香山路6号 (Yaron; 1930). Shanghai Sunday Times, Dec 1932
Former Recoletos mission building, at today's 6 Xiangshan Road 香山路6号 (Yaron; 1930).
Watercolor-tinted perspective drawing of St Nicholas Church, executed by P. F. Fedorovsky for A. J. Yaron. © Museum of Russian Culture, San Francisco