The stories that ARCI company has passed through reflect the 30-year history of Georgia. These stories are full of admiration, bravery, doubts, fear, risks, devotion, misery, feeling of despair and achievements – ARCI has turned 30.
Architect Gia Abuladze, one of the first founders of the company, talks about the first steps taken by ARCI company.
“We used to work at GiproGorStroy”, in Georgian – SaqQalaqMshenSakhProject. This institution was the network of designing offices all over the Soviet Union. Our institution was called as the State Designing Institute for Urban Development. In one word, this was an ordinary Soviet unclear organization with a lot of projects in Georgia and the Soviet Union”.
The Group of Gia Abuladze, at the end of the Soviet Era, used to work on the project of Mziuri at the workshop of Levan Kiladze.
„Initially, Irakli Maskharashvili was a head of this group. Later, Irakli Maskharashvili became a head of the workshop and I became the director of Mziuri Group. It was 1982 or 1983, when the Mziuri entrance opened from the direction of Chavchavadze Avenue. This project was supervised by the central committee of the Komkavshiri (the Communist Youth League). Prior to opening this entrance, we had worked on Mziuri general design for 3-4 years. Having arranged this entrance and a small park, another phase started. We used to work on several projects simultaneously. Therefore, we started shaping groups of architects, we used to conduct contests at institutions to identify talented persons. Thus, we kept moving in the period of the absolute Zastoi (Standstill). In that period, Gaga Kiknadze, Irakli Rostomashvili, Levan Mushkudiani, Mika Kurashvili, Tio Gabunia, Gio Inasaridze, Malkhaz Kveselava, Zura Lolashvili were in our team”, Gia Abuladze recalls.
There was a certain hierarchy at SaqQalaqMshenSakhProject (like the Soviet Union designing offices): junior architect, architect, senior architect, a chief of the group, head of the workshop, main architect and so on. You could reach a certain level and your top salary would be only 220 Rubles. Therefore, the majority of architects used to work on the side, but we could not do even this. We had insgifnicant wages, but we had to work days and nights. We used to get entertained, it was interesting and we were young”, Gia Abuladze noted.
And then the Perestroyka started. And the Mziuri project got stuck, like many other large-scale projects.
The Authorities introduced KhozRaschot 1 and KhozRaschot 2 as if we could receive salaries due to the working hours and volume, but formulas were so complicated that one could go crazy. KhozRaschot 2 was more refined, but it was unclear anyway, absolute insanity, but great changes were underway anyway.
“And one day we woke up and heard that we could set up cooperatives. We started exploring what a cooperative could mean. We found out that we could not organize casinos, brothels, produce gunfire, and everything else was admitted, which was not forbidden by the law. In one word, we could not believe completely. I, Parna Zakaraia and Tio Gabunia decided to set up a cooperative IERI.
Tio wrote the name in the way that it received the shape of a cross and it looked very efficiently. Standing in the queue for documents and registration, we got acquainted with the IRIDA group members. They planned to launch modelling business. They learned we were architects and asked us to design their pharmacy in Didube District. To be short, we decided to implement the IRIDA project and Tio had to even climb the scaffolds. We took into account runway walk space, sewing space, auxiliary spaces, everything. The inauguration ceremony was held in solemn atmosphere”, distinguished Georgian architect Gia Abuladze noted.
In that period in Soviet Georgia, like the remaining part of the Soviet Union, the Perestroyka was gaining momentum.
Gia Abuladze: ”I would like to tell you one small episode to better describe that period. We needed marble to coat the IRIDA interior and the quarry was near Kutaisi. From the Mziuri project we knew that this process needed a resolution from the cabinet of Ministers. In that period Guram Mirianashvili was director of GosStroi (SakhMsheni – a committee). I knew Mr. Guram very well, he was my lecturer at the Institute and he had kind attitudes to me. I visited his office and explained to him that we needed a specific volume of marble and asked for allocating a certain limit. He called one person, he composed a permit, Mr. Guram revised it, sent it to several other rooms, collected required signatures and appointed a meeting with us for 12 o’clock of the next day. We visited him next day, we got our permit and Guram’s letter to the quarry director. We left for Kutaisi on the same day jointly with IRIDA representatives. In one word, we were very optimistic and happy. We reached the quarry director, show him these papers. He read the letter, then looked at us and tore off the letter jointly with the permit and then told us: what do you want and what volume do you want? This stone costs this price and this one costs this price. Choose the desirable one, come back in a week, pay the money and take it. We were astonished. In one word, capitalism had taken the power on our road from Tbilisi to Terjola.
This was our first independent business.
ARCI since 1989 – on February 18 the company will mark its 30th anniversary. We will introduce the 30-year history of ARCI company in series of articles. We will recall a lot of other interesting stages of our business.