Varazdat Harutiunian was one of the best known names in the study of Armenian architecture in Armenia during the second half of the twentieth century.
He was born in Van on November 29, 1909. The Harutiunian family emigrated from Van after the heroic resistance of April-May 1915 against the Ottoman army during the Armenian Genocide. They first went to Etchmiadzin and then to Tiflis (nowadays Tbilisi). Varazdat Harutiunian studied at the local Armenian high school from 1919 to 1927 and then taught in two villages of the region of Lori. He entered the Polytechnic Institute of Yerevan (nowadays the State Engineering University of Armenia) in 1931 and graduated from the section of architecture of the Faculty of Construction in 1937. He started teaching at his alma mater, and he would become head of the chair of Architecture (1945-1990).
He defended his first doctoral dissertation in 1946 about the monuments of Dvin, and his second dissertation in 1964 (“The Urban Construction in Ancient and Medieval Armenia”), which also earned him the title of professor. He was elected a full member of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia in 1996.
Harutiunian was president of the Committee of Protection of Monuments (1945-51) and of the Society of Architects (1962–1974). He was also member of the boards of different cultural organizations. He later founded the Van-Vaspurakan Compatriotic Society. Among various awards and distinctions, he received the title of Emeritus Art Worker of Armenia (1961).
He authored more than 800 scholarly articles, 3 textbooks, 40 books, as well as five books of memoirs. His most important works were devoted to the history and theory of medieval and modern Armenian history, the issues of restoration of Armenian monuments, and the biographies of celebrated Armenian architects.
Varazdat Harutiunian passed away on March 20, 2008, in Yerevan.