The third building of Tomsk Polytechnic University, 2013
Photo by Vladimir Lavrentyev
The building number 3 is usually called the Physics Building. In 1923 there was created the first Siberian Scientific Research Institute – the Institute of Applied Physics. Within the verge of the building there was designed a trackless magnetic cushion train 50 years earlier than in America or Japan, there was constructed the first Siberian plane and in 1950s there was established the first Siberian and the fifth Russian television broadcasting center.
Architectural style of the building belongs to Classicism. Throughout its existence, the building was once and again extended and redesigned and it has almost completely lost its initial interior décor: the walls were repainted with oil-bound paint and all the doors were replaced. In 1917 due to the Revolution events from the façade of the building was removed the monogram of the Emperor Nickolas, after whom the University was named.
The building was constructed in 1904. The building was planned by the architect Robert Marfeld, who had also designed the Main building of the Tomsk Polytechnic Institute. The construction of the third building, as well as of the Main and the Mining buildings, was directed by the engineer Fortunat Gut.
Marfeld designed the building to be T-shaped. In course of time, the north and the east wings were attached to it. After that, the building became asymmetric and got two semi-closed courtyards.
The most part of the building is two-storied, while the east wing is three-storied and the south wing has a 4-storied segment. Apart from classrooms, the building once had a residential section for professors and lecturers.
On planes and trains
In 1909 the professor Boris Veinberg came to the TPI –a researcher of the Earth magnetism, the founder of the Tomsk School of Solid State Physics and the founder of the first Tomsk Aero Club.
In 1913 under his direction there was created the railway without rails: the train would travel on the magnetic cushion. The research of Tomsk scientist was ahead of American and Japanese ones for half a century. The news about the work flied around the world and before long the distant Siberian city Tomsk hosted delegations of scientists from many countries. One American filmmaking team even made a film about the phenomenal invention.
In 1927 the members of the Aero Club constructed in the third building the first Siberian two-seat plane. It was named romantically Avietta and more formally STI-1 (in 1920s the TPI was renamed to the Siberian Institute of Technology).
After that, the Aviation Museum and the Aero Engine Museum were opened in the building. They exhibited lots of aviation components, lugs, structural systems and engines of different sorts. Now the museum does not exist. During the Second World War due to the severe shortage of raw metal, the exhibit items were melted and sent to the needs of the front.
In the laboratories of the professor Boris Veinberg there worked Nikolay Semenov,the future Nobel Prize winner for physical chemistry. He was born in Saratov, graduated from the Saratov Realschule and joined the Math Branch of the Math and Physics Department at Petrograd Imperial University. After graduation, he stayed at the university as a professorial fellow.
In the spring of 1918 Semenov went on vacation to his parents in Samara, where he was called to arms to the Kolchak White People’s Army. After doing his service for 3 weeks, he deserted and moved to Tomsk, which was the nearest city with a university. Until 1920 Nikolay Semenov did postgraduate studies in the Tomsk Institute of Technology, and then he returned to Petrograd.
In 1931 he established the Institute of Chemical Physics of Russian Academy of Science (ICP RAS) and stayed as its irreplaceable director until the end of his days. Together with the Soviet physicist Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa, Nikolay Semenov founded the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1946.
Nikolay Semenov was the only Soviet physicist and chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Memorial plate on the wall of the third TPU building
Photo from the assests of the TPU Museum Complex
Tomsk Television appeared in the Polytechnic
In 1952 equipment for a television center was assembled in the building, and three years later there was held the first TV session. The TPI television center was the first one in Siberia and the fifth one in the country.
At that time, Alexander Vorobyev was a principal of the TPI. It was he who arranged the group of radio amateurs to create the TV center.
TV equipment created in the TPI was so advanced, that many other cities of Siberia ordered a set for themselves, including Barnaul, Biysk, Rubtsovsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk.
After a series of successful sessions, in 1954 Vorobyev requested the CPSU Regional Committee to create a stationary TV center. The committee supported his initiative and invited construction organizations. The university staff members departed to Moscow to get acquainted with the arrangement of the Moscow TV center.
In the end of April 1955, the government decision-making committee accepted the building as commissioned and fully operated, and soon there was a scheduled TV broadcasting in Tomsk. Although for the first half year the telecast included only movies and test cards.
TV equipment assembled in the TPI functioned in the Tomsk TV Center until 1966, when the equipment from Leningrad replaced it.