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Experts Slam Giant Gazprom Tower Plan

Published: July 21, 2006 (Issue # 1188)


As energy giant Gazprom selects architects for its ambitious Gazprom-City business center in St. Petersburg, local experts weighed in Thursday on the possible construction of the planned 300-meter skyscraper.

In a letter to Governor Valentina Matviyenko released Thursday, the St. Petersburg Union of Architects said the tower will destroy the unique harmony of the citys skyline and might result in St. Petersburgs exclusion from the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

The center is to be located on the right bank of River Neva opposite Smolny Cathedral. And although the final design has not been chosen because an architectural competition is underway, Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller said when it was announced last November that he expected a positive outcome.

I am positive that St. Petersburgs citizens will be proud of these new architectural masterpieces, Miller said when the international architectural contests in relation to Gazprom-City and the Gazprom-Arena Football Stadium were presented.

St. Petersburgs architects, however, are not so positive. In the letter to Matviyenko and the chairman of the Legislative Assembly, Vadim Tyulpanov, they write that the construction of the giant tower visible from the city center would be a crime.

The low skyline makes the verticals of St. Petersburg especially magnificent... the conservation of inimitable silhouettes of its spires and domes is of great importance to town planning and spiritual importance, reads the letter from the St. Petersburg Union of Architects.

A 300-meter tower, more than twice as high as the Peter and Paul Cathedral and three times higher than St. Isaacs and Smolny Cathedral, visible from all the main locations of the historical city center (even from Vasilievsky Island)will bring the irreparable damage to the fragile skyline of the city as it will make all its verticals look almost toy-like, the document continues.

The architects said the world already has the depressing example of London, where the Tower of London and historic cathedrals are now lost among skyscrapers, and Rome, where the dome of St. Peters Basilica is no longer the citys focus.

The Gazprom-City project has also attracted criticism from St. Petersburg charities and foundations.

Petersburg is the only megalopolis in the world whose center as a whole is on the UNESCO list and now its on the brink of an abyss, Alexander Margolis, head of the international Salvation of Petersburg-Leningrad Foundation said Thursday, speaking at a news conference organized under the title The Skyline of St. Petersburg to Save or Destroy?

This strategic investor came from Moscow. Therefore it is used to Moscow practices where... entire architectural formations are being destroyed... and where the image of the city center is already totally distorted, Margolis said, referring to Gazprom.

Therefore the same might happen in St. Petersburg in the near future, he said, if we dont stop whats happening now.

Gazprom said they think the chosen area is most appropriate for their business center.

The industrial zone on the border of historic and modern St. Petersburg is regarded upon as the most suitable building site for the office area. This location will allow Gazprom-City to become a link between St. Petersburgs past, present and future and to give the city a new image, a statement from Gazproms information division reads.





 


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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.