Vladimir Gelfreikh studied from 1906-1915 at St. Petersburg Academy of Arts under L. N. Benois. As a student he began to work with V. A. Shchuko. Among his most important buildings were the Russian State Library in Moscow, 1923-1952 (together with Vladimir Shchuko), the Gorky Drama Theater in Rostov-on-Don in 1936 (together with Vladimir Shchuko), a city theatre in Sochi and the the building of the Foreign Ministry on Smolenskaya Square in Moscow 1948-53 with M. A. Minkus for which they were awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1949.
In 1935 he began to take an active part in reconstructing the capital and also participated in designing the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (1939) and subways-the ground-level lobby of the Novokuznetskaia station, 1943-44, which he planned with I. E. Rozhin, and the Elektrozavodskaia subway station, 1944, for which he won the State Prize of the USSR in 1946.
From 1950 to the 1960's, Gelfreikh directed the creation of architectural ensembles on Smolensk Square and Kutuzov Avenue, as well as the construction of the Kuntsevo, Fili-Mazilovo, and Rublevo housing developments. He was a professor at the Leningrad Academy of the Arts during 1918-35 and at the Moscow Higher School of Industrial Arts during 1959-67