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Old November 18th, 2006, 03:23 AM   #1
hkskyline
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St. Petersburg Debates Skyscraper Plan

FEATURE - Planned skyscraper triggers St Petersburg outcry
By Denis Pinchuk

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov 17 (Reuters Life!) - Admired by madmen and dreamers, the elegant skyline of St Petersburg has survived revolutions, wartime bombing and the heavy hand of Soviet planners.

But its charm may not survive Gazprom and a new generation of Russian rich who are building up their own dreams -- some say nightmares -- in Russia's imperial capital.

The gas behemoth wants to build a towering office block 300 metres (990 feet) high that will dominate the skyline of Russia's second city, an elegant Baroque and neo-classical city of canals and bridges.

Plans to construct "Gazprom City" only 24 metres or so shorter than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, albeit in a forlorn industrial area, have triggered outrage among local historians who see it as the latest attack on the "Venice of the North".

"The city is steadily losing its main virtue -- its authenticity," said Alexander Margolis, a historian and head of the Fund for Saving St Petersburg-Leningrad.

"We have come right up to a dangerous line; the destruction of the city's integrity."

Russians hold St Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as a 'window on Europe', in special affection because of its imperial elegance and cultural cachet as the home of Russia's greatest writers including poet Alexander Pushkin and the tormented Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

But with oil money pouring in, the impact is felt in Russia's second city in the shape of outlandish restoration and demolition of 200-year-old buildings to free up space.

DESTRUCTION IMMINENT

Opponents of the planned skyscraper, for which Gazprom has shortlisted seven international architects, say it will blight the city landscape as seen from the historic centre where no building is taller than 24 metres.

"This destroys the skyline of St Petersburg," said Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the world-famous Hermitage museum.

Margolis, like many others, fears the tower will clear the way for other skyscrapers on the banks of the Neva river.

"In drawings, ideas and business plans, St Petersburg is virtually destroyed already," he said.

New Russian capitalists, riding on a wave of petrodollars flooding Russia, are not without influential backers.

City governor Valentina Matviyenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who is himself from Petersburg, says the Gazprom tower will help regenerate an unprepossessing part of the city.

"Building nothing taller than 24 metres -- that's degradation and stagnation," he said.

The skyline of St Petersburg, then known as Leningrad, survived a 900-day siege by German forces during World War Two, after Hitler ordered the city wiped off the face of the earth.

But new city reformers recently reduced to rubble a radio station from which the Bolsheviks told the world they had seized power in 1917.

The laboratory of chemist Dmitry Mendeleev, father of the periodic table of elements, and a pool for testing military ship models -- a big tourist attraction -- have also been demolished.

"These are interesting monuments," said Yuri Lesman, an outraged Hermitage archaeologist. "Preserving is more important than building a parking lot."

RESTORATION CRIMES

The preservation of a historic building is a vague notion in St Petersburg, professional restorers say, adding that many valuable facades and interiors are ruined during such works.

Restorer Maxim, who declined to give his surname, said he was shocked when he saw the restoration of a modernist building on St Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect, its main throughfare.

"That's not restoration, that's a nightmare. Many buildings are restored in this way."

To get hold of protected buildings, many self-styled reformers arrange for them to be emptied of residents and then abandoned until they are unsuitable for living and have to be demolished.

Historian Margolis fears such a fate awaits a Lutheran church that has not been repaired three years after a fire and may collapse any day. "We are talking here about an outstanding monument to 18th century architecture. This is a crime through and through."
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Old November 19th, 2006, 03:11 AM   #2
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wow, a Supertall for St. Petersburg
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Old December 7th, 2006, 05:13 AM   #3
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London firm to design controversial St. Petersburg skyscraper
2 December 2006
International Herald Tribune

Russia's largest company, Gazprom, announced Friday that it had chosen the architectural firm RMJM London to design this city's tallest building, brushing aside arguments from preservationists and residents that the project - whoever the designer - would destroy the city's architectural harmony.

RMJM's winning proposal includes a twisting glass tower that will anchor a business and residential center planned for a site on the Neva River opposite the Smolny Cathedral, one of the city's most famous landmarks. As now designed, it would rise nearly 400 meters, or 1,299 feet, dwarfing the Peter and Paul Cathedral, built 300 years ago by Peter the Great, which has a spire just 123 meters tall.

The chief executive of Gazprom, Aleksei Miller, hailed the project as a "new symbol of St. Petersburg" akin to the city's other landmarks, including the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Admiralty and St. Isaac's Church. "This new, modern project will give birth to a new mentality for St. Petersburg, which lives in a new, modern civilization," said Miller, appearing with the city's governor, Valentina Matviyenko.

Gazprom selected RMJM's proposal over five other designs by architects including Rem Koolhaas of Rotterdam and Daniel Libeskind of Berlin. The competition stirred weeks of ferocious debate. Even as Gazprom executives met with city officials and experts on the selection commission at the company's headquarters on the English Embankment, a small group of protesters passed back and forth aboard a small trawler in the Neva, dressed as clowns and mental patients and holding a sign deriding the project. "Lunatics City," the sign said. (The project is referred to as Gazprom City.) There was also dissension within the selection panel. The Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, a member of the jury, read a two-page statement Friday describing his vision for St. Petersburg, which would preserve its cityscape on a lower scale, and opposing any of the projects under consideration. He then resigned from the jury and left. The St. Petersburg Union of Architects, the director of the State Hermitage Museum and other preservation groups have threatened to challenge the project in court.

This week, three members of the city's parliament appealed to the Russian prosecutor general, saying the project would violate budget rules and a regulation that restricts buildings in that part of the city to about 50 meters. One of the lawmakers, Mikhail Amosov, said that construction of a skyscraper would intrude into St. Petersburg's horizontal cityscape, which has remained largely unaltered for two centuries. "Eventually, we are going to lose the shape of St. Petersburg that we inherited from previous generations," he said.

With offices throughout Britain and in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, RMJM ranks among the world's top 15 architectural firms in size. The St. Petersburg commission will significantly expand its presence in Russia, where it is already building a 46-story office tower in Moscow dubbed the City Palace. RMJM's managing director in Britain, Tony Kettle, said in a telephone interview that the firm designed the tower with an eye toward St. Petersburg's cityscape, with its Baroque architecture and punctuating spires.

"We've created a new spire that elegantly breaks into the sky," he said. Philip Nikandrov, RMJM's Moscow director, said the project's most controversial feature - its height - could still be reconsidered. Matviyenko, the St. Petersburg governor and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, the city's most prominent native, strongly defended the project. She said the site was outside the historic center, which is recognized by Unesco as a cultural landmark. She added that Gazprom's willingness to build a business center in the city would bring sorely needed funds to St. Petersburg, which has not enjoyed the energy-fueled boom that is transforming Moscow. "Without big companies coming, without turning the city into a financial and economic center, we shall never have these resources," she said, "and the unique architectural heritage in the center of the city will be quietly falling apart before our eyes."
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Old December 8th, 2006, 06:17 AM   #4
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i think that they should build tall buildings in the outskirts of the city, creating a tall buildings zone, cause st. petesburg looks good stucked in time, really
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Old February 21st, 2007, 11:35 AM   #5
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007 - 12:00 AM
Proposed skyscraper divides Russian city
By Peter Finn
The Washington Post

ST. PETERSBURG — Twisting as it rises 77 stories, the planned office development known as Gazprom City is testament to the muscle of Russia's richest company. A flickering gas flame captured in soaring glass, the design is also an ode to the country's energy-driven boom.

But the 1,300-foot skyscraper to be built on the Neva River across from the pastel-blue-and-white Smolny Cathedral will loom over a baroque cityscape famous for the Hermitage art museum and the Peter and Paul Cathedral, among dozens of other historic landmarks.

The project has become a flash point in an angry debate not just about architectural preservation and corporate clout, modernity and the old city, but also power and privilege in today's Russia.

In upcoming elections for the regional parliament, the Yabloko party, which has railed against Gazprom City, has been banned on the grounds that too many of the signatures it gathered to qualify for the race contained errors. Party leaders say their exclusion is punishment for standing up to Gov. Valentina Matviyenko, a Gazprom booster and ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Gazprom, a state-controlled energy company, is portraying the project as a boost for Russia's second city, too long seen as Moscow's poor cousin. The building's designers also say the tower is a fitting complement to the city's heritage: startling, but also harmonious.

"I feel when something is really special to the city it breaks the horizontal grain," said Tony Kettle, lead architect on the project for the British architectural firm RMJM.

But critics call the tower a monument to Gazprom's ego.

"This city is a historical gift, a chain of architectural ensembles," said Dmitri Butyrin, head of the council for the protection of cultural heritage in the city's Union of Architects. "And it is threatened by the power of money, which will throw up a modern monster."

Opponents have also bridled at the development's financing, accusing Gazprom of securing a sweetheart tax break from local authorities.

Over 10 years, Gazpromneft, the company's oil subsidiary, will receive a $2.2 billion rebate on its taxes to help defray the cost of the mixed-use complex, which is to include residences for Gazprom executives.

The city will not have a direct stake in the development but is counting on major tax revenues as long as Gazpromneft stays in St. Petersburg and oil prices remain high.

"There are 800,000 people in St. Petersburg still living in communal flats, so it's impossible to justify Gazprom's greed," said Tatyana Likhanova, a local rights activist and journalist.

Gazprom City has been mired in controversy since the company held a design competition calling for a high-rise centerpiece on the 165-acre site currently occupied by some inauspicious buildings. Protesters have beaten back previous attempts to build skyscrapers in central St. Petersburg. But until now the developers have not included Gazprom, the $250 billion behemoth chaired by Dmitri Medvedev, first deputy prime minister and a St. Petersburg native.

Local architects refused to participate in the competition or serve on the jury weighing entries from six international firms.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:47 PM   #6
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well good that they are debating about this. the location really is WRONG.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #7
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I think it`s nice place to build such costruction.
Нужно развивать город,главное чтоб он под землю не ушел
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Old June 8th, 2008, 12:37 PM   #8
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why?
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Old November 12th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #9
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Medvedev calls for continuing Okhta Center consultations

MOSCOW. Oct 12 (Interfax) - A decision on the construction of the Okhta Center that will include a 400-meter skyscraper must be made after all legal processes and consultations with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) are completed, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with Russian rock musicians last night.

"I think there were also some legal processes there. What I would suggest is first of all, let all the legal procedures go through. If we are still building a state ruled by law, it would be desirable to have all this happening within the law. Certain legal options have been exhausted but my understanding is that there will be an appeal with an upper court. And on the other hand, we must continue consultations with UNESCO as an international agent that is authorized for these sort of issues," the president said.

The Okhta Center project has split the city into two irreconcilable camps. Some St. Petersburg residents support the project, some are fearing that the skyscraper will be an eyesore in the northern capital, the historical center of which is listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 05:38 AM   #10
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I think St. Petersburg should do what Paris did - designate an area on the outskirts for tall buildings and have a strict code which doesn't allow tall buildings outside that area. It may even go further and only allow few architectural styles for skyscrapers that blend in with the city's current architecture.
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Old November 17th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
I think St. Petersburg should do what Paris did - designate an area on the outskirts for tall buildings and have a strict code which doesn't allow tall buildings outside that area. It may even go further and only allow few architectural styles for skyscrapers that blend in with the city's current architecture.
+1

I think la tour Montparnasse was a huge mistake for Paris, and I'd hate to see St. Petersburg make a similar one.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 01:42 PM   #12
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Hi, do some of you have visualization of this project?
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Old November 18th, 2010, 08:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkastytis View Post
Hi, do some of you have visualization of this project?
Here is the development thread : http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=421339
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Old December 15th, 2010, 02:16 PM   #14
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Old December 16th, 2010, 11:08 AM   #15
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Russian official : Site of proposed St. Petersburg skyscraper to be moved from center
10 December 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - The governor of Russia's northern city of St. Petersburg says a hulking skyscraper will not be built in the central location that had been earmarked, a small victory for activists who say it will spoil the historic skyline.

Valentina Matvienko did not say Thursday where the proposed 400-meter (1,300-foot) Okhta Center -- a headquarters for Russian gas giant Gazprom -- would be built.

Opponents of the skyscraper are happy their views have been heard in a country where grass-roots dissent is typically snuffed out by baton-wielding police.

Maxim Reznik, head of St. Petersburg's branch of the liberal Yabloko party, called the announcement "a big achievement."

UNESCO has warned that building the tower could endanger St. Petersburg's status as a world heritage site.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 08:59 PM   #16
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Build them in the outskirts, and invest in public transport. That way everyone is happy and progres is for all, just like they did in madrid and paris. No one wants another montparnasse.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 10:23 PM   #17
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Or what is the harm in building two or three shorter towers instead of a supertall. I agree that Piter should be left as is and any new development should compliment the city not stand out. 24 meters is too short though.
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