The Academic Council of the International Academy of Architecture would like to remember the Honorary President – Acad. Georgi Stoilov with the words written by the Vice President – Acad. Richard England
When a personality, who has left a leviathan contribution to his profession and an indelible mark in his country, it is difficult to find adequate words to pen an apt post-demise appreciation. The task becomes even more arduous when the individual concerned was a long-lasting cherished and much-loved friend. Such is the case of Georgi Stoilov, prominent citizen of his native Bulgaria, paramount figure in the world of architecture and on a personal level a much-loved confidant, valued peer and esteemed mentor. What Georgi achieved with his founding and years of Presidency of the International Academy of Architecture is beyond measure. His bringing together to his natal town of Sofia, even in periods of tension and political divide, international masters of architecture was demonstrative proof of not only his chimerical qualities as an outstanding catalyst, but also of his determination, resolve and steadfastness in achieving his aims. Through his staunch and sturdy, yet always affable approach, and the international esteem he enjoyed, he was able to lure great architectural personalities from all over the world to engage in fruitful intellectual, cultural and architectural interchange.
From the first Interach meeting, the scene was set. With participants of the stature of Pierre Vago, Felix Candela, Georges Candilis, Bruno Zevi, Denys Lasdun and others attending, under Stoilov’s leadership the IAA immediately established itself as a paramount, much esteemed platform, for the discussion and evolution of novel ideas for the development of an architecture and philosophy pertinent to the period. Later Stoilov was also able to lure a new and younger generation of up-and-coming architects, soon themselves to become IAA professors and academicians and acclaimed international masters. Amongst these, one can mention Massimiliano Fuksas, Daniel Libeskind, Santiago Calatrava, Ricardo Legoretta among others. The presence of such personalities also provided inspirational tutorage to young Bulgarian architects and students together with others who attended the IAA Triennales and Biennales, thus passing on to new generations novel and stimulating philosophical ideas.
Also, on an educational level, Stoilov’s organization of many workshops both in Bulgaria and other countries manifested the Academy as a strong pedagogical tool. I personally have fond memories of workshop sessions led by Stoilov particularly those held in the monastic enclave of Santo Kiriko, especially the one held in the company of my late lamented friend Denis Sharp and also of the workshop held in Mahachkala Dagestan, where under Georgi’s guidance I led a group of some forty visiting architects to develop extensive tourist projects on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Particularly memorable were our visits to the citadel fortress of Derbent and the Caucasus mountains with the abandoned village of Gamsuti and the aul of Chokh in order for the design team to study and comprehend the vernacular architecture of the region. Yet above all, the mnemonic retentions I harbour most fondly are the shared coveted meetings and close friendship conversations with Georgi during the IAA sessions I attended. Post these meetings I emerged emotionally and intellectually fulfilled.
Although, Georgi was perhaps to the general public and to those who did not know him closely, read as a single minded energetic and forceful determined leader, rarely relenting on matters he pursued; on a personal level he was a most pleasant, convivial and genial personality. I consider myself particularly privileged to have shared with him a long lasting, much cherished and valued friendship. It is also a truism to say that the friendship and close relationships that I today share with many of the world’s leading architects were initiated by Georgi.
Georgi Stoilov was also responsible for his native Sofia boasting works by celebrated architects such as Kisho Kurokawa, and it was also due to his initiative that Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana today harbours Manfredi Nicoletti’s Concert Hall masterwork; the result of a 2008 invited competition which Stoilov had organized. Yet, Georgi was not only an inventive initiator of notable buildings by other architects; he himself was also responsible for the design of a number of excellent edifices including numerous hotels in Sofia and the impressive Transport Admin Building at Sofia airport. To my mind, however, his master work remains the earlier Buzludza Pantheon, to commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of the Bulgarian Socialist Movement. To this day, even in its ruined state, it remains one of the paradigm edifices of Brutalist architecture. Also worthy of note, as they are in complete contrast to the daring audacity of the Buzludza structure and many of his architectural works, were his delicate diaphanous water-colour art works.
For his many achievements Stoilov was the recipient of innumerable accolades from practically all international architectural unions, institutions and universities. He was also President of the International Union of Architects between 1985 and 1987, during which period he founded Architecture Day celebrated each year on 1st July. On a political level he was also mayor of Sofia between 1967 – 1971 and minister of Bulgarian architecture.
With his demise the world of architecture has lost an apotheosis figure. Few have left such a legacy. It is now the duty of every Academician and Professor of the Academy to ensure that it will continue to survive, live-on and flourish. On my part, it is my ardent desire both as current Vice President and more so as a privileged friend to ensure the protraction and continuation of Georgi’s dream, in order for it to continue its influential and educational activities.
NOW THAT HE IS GONE
SORROW BEYOND SENTIENCE
WE WHO LOVED HIM DEARLY
CAN LONG FOR HIS RETURN
MOURN HIS LOSS
HIS LEVIATHAN MARK
AS HE WOULD SURELY WANT US DO
HE HAS LEFT BEHIND