The Astrid Apartments in Shanghai
Wladimir Goldenstaedt was born in Vladivostok in 1878. His stepfather, Karl Goldenstaedt, married Wladimir's mother Agafya Livina and applied for a formal adoption of her four children from the previous marriage (Wladimir was six at the time). Goldenstaedt, of German origin, was a dairy farmer and a landowner. Such naturalized expats were called “Russianized,” to indicate their change of religion. The adoption was approved on the condition that the children remain in the Russian faith and are raised in the Russian tradition. They all assumed their stepfather’s surname, Goldenstaedt, and received good education.
UPDATE Jan 11, 2017: A descendant of the family left a comment to clarify the circumstances of the adoption, so I've edited the above paragraph.
The young Wladimir Goldenstaedt got his degree in architecture from the Institute of Civil Engineers (in Saint Petersburg, as was pointed out in the comments). His stepfather bought a piece of land in Vladivstok and Vladimir designed a hotel to build on it, called The Central. Finished in 1907, it became the best hotel in the city.
Here is the Central Hotel in Vladivostok photographed around 1920
And here it is nowadays
This is another building in Vladivostok built in 1908 by Vladimir Goldenstaedt
During the 1910s Wladimir Goldenstaedt designed a number of municipal and private buildings in Vladivostok, some of which still stand today. But when the First World War began, a German last name could be damaging to a career, so in 1915 he applied to change it back to Livin, and his request was granted.
In 1922, when the civil war in Russia ended and the Bolsheviks got hold of the Far East, the architect emigrated to Shanghai and opened an architecture firm. He worked in Shanghai for over fifteen years, under the name W. Livin-Goldenstaedt.
In 1925 Livin-Goldenstaedt submitted several designs to the competition for a memorial to Sun Yatsen in Nanjing, but they did not win the commission, taking the 5th, the 6th and the 7th places.
W. Livin-Goldenstaedt's designs for Sun Yatsen's memorial
Livin-Goldenstaedt's exact contribution to Shanghai's landscape calls for additional research. He possibly worked for the Eastern Asia Architects and Engineers Corp. Ltd. until the end of the 1930s. Together with his wife, a daughter and a niece he was living in a lane house on Route Courbet (Fumin Road) as late as 1940.
Livin's design that may have been an early design for the Astrid Apartments or another project in Shanghai.
UPDATE Nov 2017: Thanks to a recent discussion with Livin's relative trying to track him down, we established that the architect's family succeeded in leaving Shanghai for the USA in 1956 and settled in the state of New York.
UPDATE Dec 2019: We now have Livin's biography and list of works on Building Russian Shanghai.