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. Petersburg’s 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 city’s landscape.
“It is a new economic symbol for St. Petersburg,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told reporters at a ceremony at the company’s 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 RMJM’s 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 Germany’s 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 Gazprom’s 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 Gazprom’s 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 city’s 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. Pages: