Wladimir Livin-Goldenstaedt

Wladimir Livin-Goldenstaedt (1878–1965)

Владимир Федорович Ливин-Гольденштедт (1878–1965). Русский текст – внизу страницы

Wladimir Livin-Goldenstaedt was born on 23 April 1878, in Vladivostok, and died on 17 February 1965, aged 86, in Albany, NY, USA. Wife Anna (b. 1890); daughters Irina (b. 1912) and Natalie (b. 1914; m. Beresford).

When Wladimir was 7, his Cossack mother Agafya Livina married Karl Goldenstaedt who officially adopted her four children, including Wladimir. Karl Goldenstaedt, of German origin, was a dairy farmer and a landowner. Such naturalized expats were called “Russianized,” to indicate their change of religion. The adoption of Agafya's children was approved on the condition that the children remain in the Russian faith and are raised in the Russian tradition. They all assumed their stepfather’s surname, Goldenstaedt, and received good education.

Wladimir Goldenstaedt earned his degree in architecture from the Institute of Civil Engineers in Saint Petersburg in 1904. For his first project, in 1907, his stepfather bought a lot in Vladivostok, where Wladimir designed the Central Hotel, which became the best in the city. During the 1910s, young Goldenstaedt built a number of municipal and private buildings in Vladivostok.

When the First World War began, a German surname could be damaging to a career, so the architect changed his name back to Livin. In November 1922, when the Bolsheviks got hold of the Russian Far East, Livin moved to Shanghai. Here he found that German names were favorably associated with expertise and precision, so he started to work under the names W. Goldenstaedt 戈登士达, W. Livin-Goldenstaedt and W. Livin 列文.

In 1925, Livin-Goldenstaedt entered the national competition to build a mausoleum for the recently deceased Sun Yat-sen, to be built in Nanking. His designs, some of which were co-authored with his colleague Zdanowitch, earned the 5th, the 6th and the 7th places. The architectural firm Goldenstaedt & Zdanowitch went bankrupt in February 1926, and after a brief stint in the export company P. Heath & Co. Livin became head of the Eastern Asia Architects and Engineers Corp (possibly, its founder). In early 1927 the company was preparing architectural plans for the construction of a new shopping emporium on Nanking Road, to complement the existing three flagships – Wing On, Sincere and Sun Sun. The department store was supposed to be built on the site of the original town hall of the International Settlement, but the sale of the site (for more than 1 million taels) did not go through and the project folded up.

Hotel Tiny, at 181A Yuyuen Road, opened in July 1928. It was "handsomely equipped as a residence as well as a restaurant and public hotel, which was "a credit to the workmanship and taste of Mr. W. Livin."

That year Livin passed the management of the company to his subordinate C. K. Chien and went on to design two large residential complexes for the Belgian Missions of Scheut. One was the residential complex King Albert Apartments, comprised of "sixteen buildings with a total of 128 flats." It was built in 1930–1931 at the cost of 800,000 taels and became the largest compound of this kind in the city. Another project, the Astrid Apartments, rose in the course of 1934 and opened in early 1935. It remains one of the most elegant edifices in the city and the epitome of Shanghai's art deco. Both estates were named after Belgian royals, King Albert and Queen Astrid. Roman Catholic by faith, for years Livin acted as the architect and consulting engineer for the Belgian Mission and Franciscan Procuration. (Natalie Beresford, letter)

In early 1935, the Irene Apartments on Route Magniny was inaugurated, named after the architect's daughter Irina. The building was comprised of 25 one- and two-bedroom apartments on eight floors. At one time, the infamous "Slot Machine King" Jack Riley owned an apartment in this building; in November 1940 a robber broke in and stole a gold watch and a pearl necklace from his desk. (NCH 13 Nov 1940)

On the wave of his successes, Livin publicized three projects of large residential buildings for the French Concession, including the Leopold and the Magnate Apartments, which were not realized.

Wladimir Livin and Emmanuel Gran were involved in the design of the monument to the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, unveiled on Route Pichon in February 1937.

Livin-Goldenstaedt was living with his wife Anna, daughter Irina and niece Nina on Route Courbet (now Fumin Road 富民路) well into the 1940s. Nina married the Russian architect V. N. Shtiefelman .

In 1956, the family left China via Copenhagen and settled in New York.

Sun Yat-sen mausoleum


Fifth honorable mention at the competition for the construction of the mausoleum

Sun Yat-sen mausoleum


Designed together with Zdanowitch. Sixth honorable mention at the competition for the construction of the mausoleum

Sun Yat-sen mausoleum


Designed together with Zdanowitch. Seventh honorable mention at the competition for the construction of the mausoleum

Hotel tiny, Yu yuen Road


King albert Apartments, Avenue du Roi Albert


Astrid Apartments, Route Vallon


Irene Apartments, Route Magniny


Leopold Apartments

1935 (unrealised)

magnate Apartments

1935 (unrealised)

Pushkin's monument


Listing for the Eastern Asia Architects and Engineers Corp. 东亚建筑工程公司 in 1928
Heritage plaque on the former King Albert Apartments 亚尔贝公寓, now Shannancun 陕南村
One of Livin's designs; possibly an early version of the Astrid Apartments
Drawing of the Astrid Apartments, on Nanchang Road 南昌路 (Livin-Goldenstaedt; 1933), published in The Builder 建筑月刊, 1934
Ad for the George Photo Studio in the Astrid Apartments, 307 Route Cardinal Mercier. V. D. Zhiganov, Russians in Shanghai

Irene Apartments (1935)

Entrance to the Irene Apartments, 185 Kangping Road 康平路185号. This and following modern images: www.instagram.com/shanghaiheritage/

Pushkin’s Monument (1937)

Unsigned drawing of the Pushkin's monument, published in the brochure Pushkin Centenary, 1837–1937
The opening ceremony of the Pushkin's monument, Father John officiating, in February 1937
Design of the Irene Apartments 爱丽公寓, built in 1935 on today's Kangping Road 康平路

List of known works by W. Livin-Goldenstaedt

  • Three designs of the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum (1925) – unrealized

  • Hotel Tiny, later Tiny Mansions, 181A Yu Yuen Road (1928), now 741 Yuyuan Road 愚园路741号

  • King Albert Apartments 亚尔贝公寓, Avenue du Roi Albert (1931), now 151–187 South Shaanxi Road 陕西南路151号–187号

  • Astrid Apartments 南昌大楼, corner of Route Vallon and Route Cardinal Mercier (1933), now 294–316 Nanchang Road 南昌路294号–316号

  • Irene Apartments, Route Magniny (1935), now 爱丽公寓, 182 Kangping Road 康平路182号

  • Leopold Apartments (1935) – unrealized

  • Magnate Apartments (1935) – unrealized

  • Pushkin's Monument, on Route Pichon (1937) – replaced with another version

Владимир Федорович Ливин-Гольденштедт (1878–1965) – развернуть

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