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5,198 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just to bring some clarity... otherwise the last months may have created a kind of chaos in Riga highrise accounting.
Here you see the list of all existing and proposed highrises in Riga with the height 20 floors and more – by building time. The ones with less than 20 floors are not that interesting and harder to account...
12th November 2004 - my estimates are that 22 buildings with 20 floors or more are u/c, proposed or visionary.
First - map for reference!

1. Academy of Sciences
Build - 1953-1957
Height – 108m
Floors – 21
Architects - O. Tilmanis, K. Pluksne, V. Apsitis and others
(the first - not my pic)

It was partly financed by collecting the money from the poor countryside people of Latvia and promising them that with the building of this highrise they will have place to have free accomodation and culture programs in Riga. When it was built, the building immediately was transferred to Academy of Science.
I personally consider this style to be Art Deco. In the other world this style was not used anymore, but in Soviet State anything was coming later....
There are similar, larger highrises in Moscow and Warsaw. Still the one in Riga is impressive and valuable monument of architecture, it is on protected monuments list.
Currently still used by Academy of Science. They are not good at managing the building, which needs capital repair. But the scientists are not willing to leave it either.
Nice, ornate interiors too.
Before here was located unique monument of architecture - "Russian bazar" - large wooden two floor building with collonade. It was destroyed to build this building.

2. Ministry of Agriculture building
Build – 1968 - 1978
Height – 92m
Floors – 26
Architects: A. Reinfelds, V. Kadirkov, V. Maike

Riga City general plan envisaged to build some 5 – 6 highrises in different places of the city to create metropolitan feel. It was planned to have several highrise clusters in the city.
MoA together with Hotel „Latvija” and Press house are three of these new highrises, others were not built due to lack of resources.
The building is typical representative of architecture from 1960ies. Architects had a wish to continue and improve the skyline of Old Riga with 3 highrises here but only one was built.
It was planned to have here a large square, surrounded by highrises and other modern buildings - in this square would take place political manifestations.
When the construction of the highrise started, it turned out that half of it is on floating sand and half – on firm fundament. The reinforcement of the ground required a lot of extra time and resources.
Together with the Press House it is the least popular highrise in Riga nowadays due to its brutal design. In fact this highrise is INSIDE the Old City, happily the Vansu bridge, built later, creates visual barrier. Riga City Historical Centre development plan envisages that until 2025 it should be lovered... but this is debated very much now.
Still used by Ministry of Agriculture and its agencies, as well as by numerous other offices. Hansabanka will leave it soon to Saules Akmens and two floors will become free.
I personally consider that reconstruction (but not change of initial design) might make this building quite pleasant looking – it is good representative of its time.

3. Reval Hotel Latvia
Build – 1967 - 1978
Height – 95 m
Floors – 27
Architects: A. Reinfelds, A. Grina, V. Maike, I. Paegle

Soviet architecture planned to destroy numerous ornate buildings in the left side of Brivibas (then - Lenin) Street and to build highrises there. This was the first one - for building it there were destroyed several beautiful buildings.
Initially, after the building in 1978 it looked very bad. Latvians consider that use of light-blue colour in large amounts characterises Russians and thus this building in the middle of Riga historical centre was not accepted well... not at all – it was covered with glass, painted with light blue colour. This colour peeled of the glass, making the building look even worse.
Similar as with Ministry of Agriculture - the ground here had to be reinforced very much.
Reconstruction in 2000-2001 ("Sarma & Norde", J. Poga) has made it much better. At the end of 2004 the reconstruction will continue in the other side of this quartal, but no highrise would be built.
Still it sticks out in the middle of historical centre. But it has exceptionally good thing – cafe „Skybar”. You should visit it and drive the transparent escalator! Or sit in the toilet with nice view over the city! :)
Riga City Historical Centre development plan envisages that until 2025 it should be lovered as well... I doubt whether this would be accepted and done.

4. Preses nams (Press house)
Build – 1977
Height – 77 m
Floors – 22
Architects: J. Vilcins, A. Misulovin

This building seems to be the must ugly highrise in Riga. Somehow the picture above makes it look better than in reality. It was used and is used by different newspapers. The printing house is next to it, in large lowrise building. There are printing houses in Riga and outside it of higher quality and the one in Preses nams is used less and less. Visiting the highrise leaves rather sad impression. Journalists complain about the summer heat coming from the large windows, which are not suitable to be opened.
Many „serious” newspapers and journals have left it and built their own offices. I think that after some years it might be sold to some property ddevelopers to be turned into office tower with significant changes in design... because at the moment nobody, even weird architects loves it.
In 2nd November 2004 Riga City Council supports moving of rare bird colony from Preses nams to other place. Late November 2004 - management of building announces tender for new printing house - thus it is decided to move the printing house away from the building.

5. Latvijas TV building
Build – 1979 - 1987
Height - ?
Floors – 22
Architects - A. Purvins, B. Maike, V. Kadirkov, K. Alksnis and others.

Zakusala is large, narrow island in Daugava river. Its unusual wooden quartals were destroyed in early 1980ies, when here was developed bridge, TV building and TV tower. Before this the several hudreds of islanders went to Riga with boats.
TV in late Soviet times in Latvia was developed, very high-prestige institution and it required to have modern, large building to host anything inside it. Expensive, qualitative materials used.
There was planned to build next to it also 27 floor Radio house.
Today Latvian TV has announced that it will leave the building. Only some three floors are used. Most broadcasts are made by external specialist teams outside the building.
The architecture of the building is good. Have been working in TV in 1992 – 1993 – I liked the building very much. I am sure that it will find good use in future.

6. Hansabanka Central Building, "Saules akmens" (Sun stone)
Build – construction on-going, 2004
Height – 121 m
Floors – 27
Costs - 31 mio EUR

Estonian based „Hansabanka” has become one of three largest banks in Latvia too. Over time it has become as a kind of local bank with local staff... although I imagine that the profit finally goes to some Estonian... most likely Finnish guys. (Corrected - most likely - Swedish)
They were the first to have „break-though” in Riga, which at the end of 1990ies was tired of the experiments of modern architecture and was deep into reconstruction of the old and beautiful architecture.
The development of Saules akmens project is surrounded with numerous scandals, seems that several times the regulations and decisions of authorities have been disregarded. This initially created very bad publicity around the building. Now, when it becomes ready – almost anyone in Riga agrees that the city is getting very good additions. Finally modern architecture shows that it is worth something.
One of the scandals is that the building is too similar to a highrise in Near East. I have not found – which one. I think, it simply is on the wawe of modern highrise architecture, which is more implemented in Near East.
It is one of the few buildings in Riga to be located next to water. In Latvia the building of any buildings near water is strictly prohibited – any waterbody has strict coast protection belt. In the centre of Riga this is senseless – here the nature has been changed beyond recognision anyway. Anyway this was one more reason to have scandals around the building.

7.and 8. Solaris I and Solaris II
Build – construction on-going, to be completed in 2005. Now - in July - they have completed fundament and are starting to go up.
Height - ?
Floors – 22 inhabited, 25 technical

Two first apartment houses in Riga over 20 floors are built in Imanta – our first real highrise cluster would be located here. Developer is company „Parkhaus” – joint Latvian – Russian company, architects – local company. The apartments would have interesting planning, which would allow to see very wide panorama.

9., 10., 11. Solaris III, IV, V
Build – most likely to be started in 2004, completed in 2006
Height - ?
Floors – 22 inhabited, 25 technically speaking

Due to good economical conditions and high demand three more highrises to be started as soon as possible

12. Da Vinci
Build – approved, detailed design on-going. To be started in 2004 or 2005, completed in 2006
Height - ?
Floors - 27

Third highrise in Kipsala highrise cluster. Design developed by Gerkan. Marg & Partners. The building would be used for high-end apartments. Its three-floor lowrise part would be used for offices, shops, there are planned to be tropical gardens inside.
Building would be located at the waterfront. Here is located monument of architecture - ferry passenger tickets office, built in 1950 - its removal would be scandal again.
Expected costs - 40 mio EUR.

13. Smilsu pulkstenis (Sand clock)
Build – unclear. Company promises to start it this year (2004) but very little heard of it.
Height – 125 m?
Floors – 35?

The approach at the design of the building somehow resemble the style of Torre Agbar in Barcelona... just the form is different.
It could be built near Salu bridge not so far from the TV tower. Developer – food producer and immobilities company „Valdo”. Planned use – office tower.
I personally have some doubts whether something that extraordinary would be aloud by our city planners. The silence around the project might mean that „Valdo” tries to go as far as possible before the project becomes visible to public.
July 2004 - detailed design restarted.

14. Building in Lucavsala
Build – construction will not start earlier than in 2006. Detailed planning on-going now, no approval yet.
Height - ?
Floors - 26

Construction and immobilities company „Merks” owns a lot of land in Lucavsala and their plans include development of new city district on this large but empty island. It is planned to have there several highrise apartment and office buildings, but not higher than this one.
I consider this design to be very preliminary and still hope to see here something ore interesting.

15. Building in Imanta (?)
Build – unclear
Height - ?
Floors – 22?

Near the cluster of „Solaris” highrise apartments there is also this project. It has got preliminary approval from the city but the company-developer now is selling this land plot together with the project. No other news.

16. National Library
Build – detailed design, land acquisition. To be completed in 2008.
Height – 66 m
Floors - 12
Architect: Gunnar Birkerts

Sorry for forgeting my own principle – this building has less than 20 floors... But I consider it to be exceptional and very interesting.
Since 1930ies Latvia badly needs national library. There have been several less ambitious projects but somehow the politicians choose the design of Latvian architect Gunnar Birkerts, who has designed mostly in US.
Initially it was planned that this building would bring in the new life in the other coast of Daugava, bringing more offices there. National Library would have function of conference centre and intellectual laboratory as well.
15 years have passed since the project was elaborated. Its design os not modern anymore but it is good architecture anyway. Government did not find money for investments in early 1990ies, the land was purchased by numerous speculants.
The building resemble the "glass mountain" of Latvian fairy tales. The hero should ride up the glass mountain to awake the sleeping beauty - then the mountain becomes the Mountain of Light.
It is planned to have 8 mio books inside.
Only now the land purchase is ending and state budget has provided the necessary financing to build it over the next years. I have high hopes that it would be built soon.
I am living 300 m from the proposed project site (and that is very important! ;) )

17-18. Kliversala development plans
Build – Expected to be ready until 2011 - 2012 (most likely earlier). Riga City approval still needed.
Height – ? m
Floors - up to 24, in total 4 - 5 buildings over 12 floors
Architect: Valda Zariņa projektēšanas birojs

"Pro Capital" subsidiary - "ProKurs" is planning to build in Kliversala several new highrises until 2011 - 2012. It is planned to have several apartment highrises here.
November 2004 - 2nd Public hearings on-going about the detailed design.

19. Government building near Skanstes Street I
Build – visionary.
Height – ? m
Floors - 40
Architect: ?

Company "Merks" has partly purchased and partly simply got the right to use larger land parcel (approx 100 ha) around Skanstes Street to cover the costs of building and maintaining ice hockey hall for world championship. In middle June 2004 they proposed to Riga City Council a development plan for this area. This plan envisages construction of government highrise building complex.

20. Government building near Skanstes Street II
Build – visionary.
Height – ? m
Floors - 24
Architect: ?

Second of government complex buildings proposed by "Merks" in June 2004.

21 - 25. Zunda complex
Build – approved.
Height – ? m
Floors - up to 30
Architect: Uģis Šēnbergs

Lithuanian "VP Market" is going to move its head offices to Riga. Together with development of the largest supermarket (>150 000 m2) in Riga there is also planned to build up to five office towers with up to 30 floors. Start of construction expected in spring 2005.

26 - 29. Panorama Plaza
Build - approved, building site under preparation.
Height - at least 100 m
Floors - two buildings 30 floors, two - 27 floors
Architect: "Nams"
Investor: Turkish "Mesa mesken"

30-32. Stāvie dārzi
Build - visionary, building site under preparation
Height - at least 140 m
Floors: highest tower - 37
Architect: A. Kronbergs, "Arhis"

Interesting proposal for the southern part of Kipsala - three highrise towers with high inner gardens in one corner. Seven lover floors - car parking.

33. Savibalts multifunctional centre
Build - proposed
Height - ?
Floors - 24
Architect: ?
Developer: "Savibalts Ltd."
Proposed highrise building near Jugla Lake in eastern part of city. The building would be mainly apartment building, but there would be sports centre and other uses. Planned investment - 30 mio EUR - is large enough to supply good quality building.

34. Jugla apartment highrise
Build - approved
Height - ?
Floors - 25
Architect: ?
Developer: "Nekustamo ipasumu fonds B"
Another highrise building in Jugla district. This apartment building would be part of larger development in this area including new ice hockey hall and swimming pool.

35. Plavnieki office tower
Build - public hearing on-going
Height - ?
Floors - 24
Architect: Arhitekta J.Pogas birojs
Developer: CMB

Twin tower with floor area 17 900 m2. Located in Plavnieki district near G. Astra and Dzelzava streets.

Kipsala highrise district development plan
Riga City understood the signal given by the scandals around „Saules akmens” very well. There is no way to escape modern architecure and there is almost no way to escape the highrises in a city which experiences boom and will have much more development in nearest future. Numerous international institutions have expressed wish to have their seats here, Latvia will try hard to get also Europa level institutions located here.
Many institutions love the numerous restored Art-Nouveau buildings. But as a result we are getting „silent”, dead centrum without people in evenings. With more and more offices coming here appears the need to develop new city centrum.
After several international symposiums the city has asked local bureau of architects to compile an outline for future modern city center. It would be located in geographical centre of Riga city – in the southern end of Kipsala island and its nearby area. This is also almost the only area in center of city without valuable historical buildings... may be just some 10 of them.
In Kipsala could be located up to 40 highrise buildings (if conjuncture would require it), up to 40 floors high. It will have developed public transportation, rised gardens, which unite two parks on both sides of the highrise district.

Green – planned rised gardens.

Kipsala highrise district would be located in the opposite side of Daugava from Old City, providing picturesque skyline over the water but not disturbing the World Heritage skyline of Old City.

Detailed planning of the district infrastructure on-going. There are continuous rumours, that rather many skyscrapers are planned already now. Concrete proposals and realisations - „Saules akmens”, old „Preses nams”, „Stavie darzi”, "Zunda", "Da Vinci".
Full development of this skyline might require several decades.

mostly at Talo and SSP
595 Posts
I found the descriptions of already existing buildings the most interesting part. Great read.

although I imagine that the profit finally goes to some Estonian... most likely Finnish guys.
Swedbank is listed as Hansapank's largest shareholder (59 % of shares). Nordea Bank Finland PLC Clients Account Trading comes second with a whooping sum of 6,7 %. To my understanding, only few Baltic corporations are still in the hands of domestic investors. Then again, it's the same thing with every larger company across the world: for example, less than 10% of Nokia's shareholders hail from Finland.

always on
4,774 Posts
yep... thats what stocks are all about :) well i dont see it as a bad thing... Large companies invest in countries.. and i have seen many of "these" invest in baltic countries...(mostly nordic companies), the same is with Reval hotel group, its sorta Sistercomp for linstow international, the company has its own CEO, and some of its profit..(dunno 10-15%) go to Linstow.. its a subgroup of sort....

115 Posts
Wow! Such a comprehensive collection... Thanks Gatis! And that Sandclock project is quite interesting to say at least!

one of a kind
85 Posts
Good work, Gatis!:)
Great overview, we should have one like this for every Baltic capital, I think.
SA is definitely the most beautiful, although, for some reason, I also like the Ministry of Agriculture and I don't think it should be lowered. It just needs some modernisation.

387 Posts
I understand, that it worth it to build something right on the waterside with no other buildings around disturbing te view on the old town of Riga or view in other directions. But as I see most of the buildings planned in the Kipsala are in the middle of other buildings. And wont have nice view.

Kipsala is too far from the center to go there on foot. So the poeple who will workj there will need a car. And if they have a car it really doesn't matter whether your office is more central like in Kipsala or out of the city where the costs for everything will be cheaper. I wonder why should anybody build something in Kipsala if they can build everything they want out somewhere else.

5,198 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
"But as I see most of the buildings planned in the Kipsala are in the middle of other buildings. And wont have nice view."
I am not a specialist in this - but I think that any highrise district in the world ends up having buildings in middle among other buildings and having not so nice view. F.e. they might have just a narrow strip of Old Riga and Daugava seen among two other giant buildings.
"I wonder why should anybody build something in Kipsala if they can build everything they want out somewhere else."
To my mind this is good point, the biggest risc showing whether Kipsala highrise district would exist or not. Riga has got still a lot of free land around center for development - and highrises are built when there is lack of land, I think. Recent announcements by "Oberhaus" show that in historical centre of Riga the offices are rebuilt back to apartments and offices are moving out of the centre of the city - f.e. to Mukusalas street (you see the name Mukusala near TV building). There are really large buildings suitable for offices - f.e. this one (you see only 1/5th of it) and a lot of construction acitivity going on:

Kipsala highrise district might develop soon only if Riga City interferes in this process by building modern infrastructure, public transportation and providing some support to companies going there. But Riga has sooo many other hot needs...
But who knows - we will get loads of news over the next months, I am sure!

always on
4,774 Posts
hmmm... well... theres alot of space in Tallinn, even more in Vilnius, but still all of us have managed highrises...All offices in highrises have been sold out like
hotcakes - maybe thats why we are building more, although it seems apartments in Highrises is even more popular - ofcourse it takes more time to sell apartments... but alot of them are beeing built in tallinn - Osten tor - 15floors, Tornimäe 1 - 30 floors, Pirita tee 16f - 16 floors, (more are planned there, but they get public opposition).
Hmmm... i dont know... apartments in tallinn downtown cost alot - also why they build highrise...

14,132 Posts
Welcome to the forums, Janis! :wave: :cheers1: It was very good of you to bring this thread back up. :)

Gatis, what a fine overview of what's built/going on in Riga--thank you! :eek:kay: I must say that some of Riga's Tall Ones are a bit too boxy for my taste (not that it's anybody's fault in particular ;) ), but then the lucky Latvians have SAULES AKMENS that easily makes up for them!

I have a specific comment with regard to Item #12 (a typically bland, unexciting gmp design IMO): is it this building

that is to be destroyed to make room for the project?

So what good is landmarking? :? :bash:

I find project #12 thoroughly depressing. For one thing I don't think Skaistie skati leaves sufficient open space between the building(s) and the water. Second, with the exception of the irregular set of stairs towards the left, it's all so square! The four round segments of the cloverleaf tower design (which is also being done by Teherani in Hamburg btw) cannot efface that impression.

So I hope with you that they'll improve on this complex, and radically!

How come nobody asked that the old building be incorporated into the new project? Or maybe they did ask, and the architects refused?

EDIT: I know you won't take this personally, Gatis; I'm just a bit upset. :( And this leads me to yet another question: there was/is a ferry ticket office or something in that old building, right? So there must be a landing facility quite near it. What happens to this ship facility with the new project?

27,467 Posts
Cool overview, Gatis!
As may see Riga is becoming another highrise mecca in the Baltics. Some of the projects are very interesting.

5,198 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Updated map and data with Acropolis 30-floorers - their location on the map is very approximate and might be wrong.

People, thanks for positive thoughts :) Hope this city will manage part of its plans.
@WH - I do not feel criticised. It is Mr. Gerkan, who is criticised and believe me - he is among the most hated architects here in Latvia too. It is fine to have highrise... but it should be something original and interesting. Regarding that building from 1950ies - that was tickets office, but it is not in use for rather long time. I do not know why it is in such a good shape, btw. I also can not say whether our authorities asked to include this building in design of the new one. May be last time for protest? (Considering to write about this building in local newspapers...)
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