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Understanding the Architecture of the Moscow Metro

Generations of Russian leaders have imposed their visions on the city's vast subway network.
Fonvizinskaya Station, designed by Nikolai Shumakov and built in 2016.
Fonvizinskaya Station, designed by Nikolai Shumakov and built in 2016.Alexey Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media

The vast Moscow Metro, one of the largest and busiest subway systems in the world, is in the middle of a rapid expansion: Between 2015 and 2020, the system is adding dozens of stations. For the historians of the 83-year-old transit network, it’s a lot to keep track of. Thankfully, Nikolai Vassiliev has it covered.

The recently released Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map (Blue Crow Media) is curated by Vassiliev, an architecture historian; it provides descriptions and photos of a little more than 40 of the system’s most architecturally notable stations. The history of Moscow’s Metro is layered with political and architectural meaning, as succeeding generations impose their own visions on the system; the ornate stations of the Stalin era have more recently given way to more utilitarian facilities. To find out more about how the Moscow Metro gets designed, and where the system’s new stations will fit into this story, CityLab asked Vassiliev a few questions via email; our interview has been condensed and edited.