Hidden away in the frozen forests of Siberia and away from the eyes of the bureaucracy resides a city built for the scientist and the researcher. It was believed that Akademgorodok would be the harbinger of scientific breakthroughs that would put Soviet Russia at the forefront of academic achievement, and, more importantly, ahead of western science. Though few would view the frozen Siberian wasteland as appealing, Russian scientists flocked to Akademgorodok for the opportunity to conduct research free from the red tape.
The living conditions here surpassed even those of Moscow’s. The shops were well-stocked and the apartments were well-furnished, a far cry from the shoddy ‘Khrushchev barracks’ that were hastily built to combat the housing shortage in the traditional cities. Those who obtained a doctorate were given a ‘special food delivery service,’ which provided them with a wider selection of food than the average person could normally acquire.
Akademgorodok isn’t just a research institute, it’s an entire city, complete with housing, stores, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, cinemas, clubs, libraries, 35 research institutes, and even a sports complex. The House of Scientists, which served as the social center for the city, contained over 100,000 volumes of not only Russian literature, but American, British, French, German, and Polish works as well. It was estimated that 30,000 scientists and their families would move in upon its completion in 1958. Akademgorodok, dubbed, ‘Science City,’ also had kindergartens and nurseries to accommodate upwards of 2800 children and schools to accommodate 6000 students. (Edit: This statement in particular refers to another ‘Academic City’) Later on, 65,000 scientists and families called this city their home. Akademgorodok was a small utopia residing within the failed reforms of the Khrushchev era.
In the end, Akademgorodok couldn’t live up to the hopes of the Soviet Union. At best the city achieved mixed results. Successes in the field of physics was coupled with failures in genetics and cybernetics. However within its confines existed an openness that didn’t exist elsewhere in Russia, especially during the repression of anti-Stalin or anti-Soviet sentiments. Topics that couldn’t be discussed in the streets of Moscow could be freely discussed in Akademgorodok.
The collapse of the Soviet Union did not mean collapse of this city, though many of Russia’s scientists were reduced to poverty after the Soviet collapse. In the 1990’s when economic reforms allowed private investment in Russia, Akademgorodok saw $10 million in private investments. This grew to $150 million in 2006. The software company Novosoft, whose chief client was IBM, was founded here, and Intel have done some of their work here as well.
In Russian, the name is Академгородо́к, a combination of академия (akademiya, or academy) and город (gorod, or city).
Edit: It has come to my attention that there were not just one, but multiple of these ‘Academic Cities,’ with the one in Novosobirsk being the most prominent. The dlib eastview source refers to another one of these cities, in Minsk.