The main building of Lviv University is a monumental building, a historical and architectural monument, where, for the first time in more than 70 years, large-scale repair and restoration work is being carried out. The building is designed in the majestic style of historicism influenced by Viennese neo-Renaissance architecture of the second half of the XIX century, is an example of a harmonious combination of architecture and sculpture, but its condition has deteriorated over time and needed professional restoration.

The main construction of the University building was carried out during 1878-1881. The building was intended for the Galician Regional Sejm, which in 1861-1914 / 18 was the representative legislative body of the Austrian province “Diet of Galicia and Lodomeria with the Grand Duchy of Cracow, the Duchy of Auschwitz and Zator”. Now the building is one of the architectural symbols, an important part of the entire architectural ensemble of Lviv and is located in the historic area of the city, the central part of which is a UNESCO monument.

In 2017, Lviv University went in for the competition and became the winner of the State Investment Project “Restoration of the main building of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, which is located on the Universytetska str, 1 in Lviv” and costs a total of about 86 million UAH. In this regard, a tender for implementation of repair and restoration work of LNU was held. The private enterprise firm “Budremservice”, as taking into account their price offer, as well as many years of experience and good- quality material and technical basis, became the winner of the tender.

Currently, the final restoration works of the University front facade with the use of European technologies are being actively carried out. In particular, the extraction of salts from the stone with the help of white stucco molding made of cellulose is being held and Lviv residents have been observing this process on the University facade for several months now.

“A very important stage of restoration work is the diagnosis and removal of salts from the stone on the facade of the building. If this is not done, the restoration will be very short-lived. After all, when the salts contained in the capillaries of the stone dry out over time, they triple in volume – respectively, causing a kind of “bomb effect”, which in a sense tears the stone from the inside and destroys all the work done. These salts must be removed from the stone for further restoration work. Yes, we have analyzed 36 samples of stone from different parts of the University facade and found that the concentration of nitrates in some places is very high, and sulfate pollution is just extreme. Nitrates appear in the stone mostly under the influence of bird scats, and the problem with sulfates is caused by certain types of cement used in previous years. In order to reduce the level of salts in the stone, we use compresses made of special cellulose and distilled water, “explains Dirk Bruggemann-Bulgakov, a German restorer.

According to him, 10 bags of special material and 2,000 liters of water have already been used to finish only part of the facade. The mixture is molded by hand, because it is the most convenient and most effective. Stucco has been removing salt from the stone for weeks, and if necessary, it is repeated. “In Germany, this technology is very common and is used on one building up to three times. In Ukraine, however, the necessary materials were very difficult to obtain, but I am glad that we succeeded, “- adds the expert.

Dirk Bruggemann-Bulgakov also admits that he is dreaming of restoring the popularity of a stone mason profession in Ukraine and is happy to convey his knowledge and skills to the younger generation. Thus, for educational and practical purposes, students of Lviv Polytechnic National University and pupils of the Ivan Trush Lviv State College of Decorative and Applied Arts officially have joined the restoration work. “Every student under my supervision has learned to analyze the salt content in the stone. We also made cellulose compresses together, covered the facade on our own. It is very interesting, even fun, and absolutely safe, because the material is so environmentally friendly that we work even without gloves. I am happy to see the admiration in the students’ eyes; they are very diligent and really interested! In general, I am grateful to Lviv University for the opportunity to work on such an interesting project! ”adds Dirk Bruggemann-Bulgakov.

Special attention should be paid to the restoration of sculptures on the University façade. They all have a recherché aesthetic appearance and deep symbolism. The sculptural group “Genius of the Homeland” or “Guardian Spirit of Galicia” is located on the attic. On both sides of the central figure of Galicia there are two other allegorical figures. The west of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria is symbolized by a woman who also represents the Vistula River. The east of Galicia is represented in the image of the Dniester, which is the largest river in this part of the region. This composition played an important ideological and informative role, demonstrating the functional purpose of the Galician Regional Sejm building.

Below there are the figures of “Love” (or, according to another version, “Science”, with a torch), “Faith” with a cross pressed to her chest, “Truth” with a mirror in her hand, and “Justice” with a sword and scales. At the entrance to the main building there are two more groups of sculptures: the compositions “Education” and “Labor”. The first is a female figure with a torch surrounded by two students with various school supplies: a globe, an easel and other stuff. The second is an allegory of labor in the image of a woman with a sheaf of wheat and a shepherd with a sheep and a craftsman with a hammer and an anvil, symbolizing, respectively, agriculture and industry are located next to the woman.

The project was created by sculptors Teodor Rygier (composition over the attic and entrance from the outside), Zygmunt Trembecki  (“Love”, “Justice” and four rulers), Felix Mikulski.  (“Truth” and “Faith”). In addition, various elements of plastic decor were made by Leonard Marconi, Tadeusz Barącz. and Julian Gorgolevsky.

The head foreman Orest Kunynets detailed about the restoration of the sculptures, which decorate the University facade. ” As based on the photos provided by the director of the University History Museum, Yurii Hudyma, we were able to restore the lost wreath of” Education ” figure and the torch, which is now again in the hands of” Labor “. In general, during the Soviet Union period, the facade was repeatedly remodeled, having destroyed many elements. Yes, after one restoration it was even blue color. Therefore, it was really difficult to find information about how it originally looked,”Orest Kunynets explained.

According to the director of the Museum of the University History Yurii Hudyma, the sculptural decoration of the University reflects the main values ​​of the era of its construction in general and the purpose of the building in particular. “Unfortunately, no one has cared about the professional restoration of the Lviv University main façade decorations in the process of restoration work during different years at the proper level. Only elementary seasonal whitewashes with different mortars of different shades were carried out by painters and plasterers. Historians, art experts and other specialists have never been involved in the spadework. There was always a lack of money for this. Some sculptures’ elements were even lost, like a wreath over the head of one figure, a torch in the hands of another, for example. I am happy that now they have been re-created and finally returned to their places they belong to, “Yurii Hudyma said.

“In fact, we have had a lot of difficulties with the lack of information about the authentic from of the University main building. We saw that the facade lacked certain elements of decor, but did not know how they should look like. During the works, we requested for help to various museums, including the Museum of the University History. We asked for the oldest photos of the building and used them to reproduce the lost elements. It is worth noting that the upper group of sculptures – the figures – was restored using the latest German technology and exclusively German construction materials, “- said foreman Oleksii Merva.

In particular, during the restoration of the sculptures, the German analysis of Merck salts was used, desalination was done with the help of Arbocel compresses, and micro-sandblasting by Eurorubber and Asalith.  The tiny cracks treatment was performed using Nanokalk by Calosil. Also, during the restoration, a German acrylic supplement to the mortar from “PCI”  and a German ultra-light Remmers mortar were used. Dirk Bruggemann-Bulgakov consulted and supervised all the works.

It is worth mentioning that over the years the engineering status of the Lviv University building has deteriorated. The networks of sewerage and drain line need special attention. Therefore, the preservation of the monument and proper functioning of the educational process has become a top –priority task. And special attention is paid to improving student learning environment and infrastructure development.

So far, according to Orest Kunynets, a series of works on renovation and restoration of the Lviv University building have already been accomplished as part of the project. Thus, in particular, waterproofing works have been implemented (1100 rm. of waterproofing were laid).Their main task is to settle and protect the main building ground work from destruction. About 2,500 m2 of windows have been replaced, about 5,000 m2 of facades have been restored, and almost 40% of the restoration of the exterior facades base and almost 60% of the restoration of sculptures, bas-reliefs, high reliefs and balustrades have been completed.

Our next plans are to complete the restoration of roof lanterns, staining of the base, restoration of the remaining windows and completion of roof repairs.