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Soviets on Visit : Architects Puzzled by Number of Homeless

November 01, 1987

The president of the USSR Union of Architects was both impressed and puzzled by what he and his group of touring Russian architects saw in downtown Los Angeles on their recent two-week visit of five major American cities.

Yuri Platonov, leader of a five-member delegation, said before departing for Moscow that the quality of construction his group saw was very impressive, but he wondered why American technical know-how was not making more progress "toward providing housing for all who need it."

"Our technology is considerably behind yours, but we are determined to provide housing for all--not just a roof--by the year 2000," he said. (Housing in the Soviet Union is government-funded.)

Platonov said architects in his country are vexed by contractors "causing delays and literally choking the building industry." He also said that high-ranking architects met Sept. 20 with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, after which a statement was issued that "architecture must express the changes that are currently under way in the social order."

The group's 14-day trip also included stops in Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and New York as part of a reciprocal arrangement between the Russians and Architects/Designer/Planners for Social Responsibility. Members of the latter group visited Moscow in May, 1986.

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