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Gazprom Winner is Corn on the Cob

Published: December 4, 2006 (Issue # 1227)


A 300-meter-tall twisting glass tower dubbed the corn on the cob beat out five international rivals to win the contentious competition to build a new Gazprom headquarters in St. Petersburg.

The decision infuriated critics, and a group of St. Petersburgs cultural luminaries, including Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky, filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, rock musician Yury Shevchuk and writer Daniil Granin threw their weight behind what threatens to become a city-wide campaign against the construction.

Yury Sdobnov, vice-president of the Russian Union of Architects has already branded the winning design blasphemous. The British design has also been dubbed the Tower of Babylon by its critics.

The head of the Hermitage Museum said the building will blight the citys landscape.

It is a new economic symbol for St. Petersburg, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told reporters at a ceremony at the companys current St. Petersburg offices, where he and Governor Valentina Matviyenko announced the winning design by British architect RMJM.

It will be a new leader, echoing the already famous architectural monuments of St. Petersburg, Miller said.

According to RMJMs design, the tower will change color up to 10 times per day, depending on the position of the sun.

RMJM was picked from a shortlist of six internationally renowned architects, including Germanys Daniel Libeskind and the Netherlands Rem Koolhaas. The other designs included ones in the shape of a DNA strand, a cluster of cubes, and an abstract design reminiscent of a flying eagle.

What will actually be built remains to be seen, as RMJM will present the final design for Gazproms approval in May.

This project is not a whim for Gazprom, Matviyenko said at the ceremony. St. Petersburg should be happy that the No. 1 company in Russia is coming to the city.

Critics, however, see the tower as a symbol of Gazproms control over the city. The tower will form the centerpiece of Gazprom-City, a business and residential center that will be built opposite Smolny Cathedral, one of the citys most famous landmarks.

Polls have shown that up to 90 percent of residents are against the tower and architectural experts said it would destroy the architectural harmony of the city.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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