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BUILDING OF THE ART ACADEMY OF LATVIA

The building of the Academy, designed by the architect Wilhelm Bockslaff, is an important architectural and artistic monument in Riga’s historical centre. The history of its construction dates back to the threshold of the 20th century when the Riga Stock Exchange Committee granted generous financial support to build a school of commerce of the Riga Stock Exchange Union. The founder of the Academy Vilhelms Purvītis had already envisaged moving the newly founded Academy to the premises of the School of Commerce. However, it was not before 7 October 1940 when the Academy found its new home in the majestic red brick building on the city’s ring of boulevards.

The façades of the School of Commerce had to symbolise the historical roots of trade, reminding about Riga as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League. The Neo-Gothic style that flourished again in Europe on the threshold of the 20th century was best suited to this task. The building of the school is constructed of red bricks on a grey granite base. All the façades of the building were given an equally representative and elaborate décor featuring nuanced details. The manifold decoration is achieved by a combination of profiled bricks, green and brown glazed bricks, limestone ashlars, plastered pointed arches and plastic ornamental gables.

It is worth walking around the building slowly, inspecting particular details and discovering the deliberate decorative repletion of surfaces achieved by the means of a wide range of decorative elements such as the tones of the bricks used to create ornament, sculptural gables and glazed-brick lacework that is also concentrated on the yard side of the hall and the end façade of the sports hall.

A dusky vestibule with nine monumental columns, a representative staircase and stained glass panels with stylized floral ornament, made by the workshop of Ernst Friedrich Tode (1852–1932), are the richest interior decorations of the Academy. The rose motif in the stained glass is consistent with both Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic styles as well as other decorative elements found in the Academy.