Lakhta Center is a multifunctional complex in St. Petersburg with the Gazprom headquarter and public spaces occupying a third of the area. Construction was completed in October 2018, now start work on the arrangement of business and public areas. The opening will take place in about a year, when the complex will be fully prepared to meet guests.
Skyscrapers change the public consciousness
Petersburg gains 2-3 million square meters annually however contrary to other European large cities, London, Paris, Oslo and even Moscow there is no skyscraper there. And not only dictated by the idea assumptions, allegedly we are not in such a need of them. The thing is that there exists no high-rise construction school, specialists, technologies, materials. Skyscrapers are considered prestigious facilities because their construction is the same breakthrough for construction industry as for example a flight to space for engineering industry. It is no coincidence that all large cities are proud of their high-rise buildings and compete in who is “tougher”.
The Northern Capital will join an elite club of high-rise construction in 4 years with a skyscraper the second in Europe in relation to its height. Lakhta Center will be 462m tall (taller than the Federation Tower in Moscow City, 509m together with the pinnacle) and as for the quantity of the commissioned areas. 300,000 square meters if counting the areas of not only of the tower itself but of the two blocks adjoining to it. Lakhta will be the largest facility in Europe. Project Chief Engineer told NV how a half-kilometer tower will be built in the city where no skyscrapers have been ever built.
– Sergey, is it difficult to build a skyscraper?
– As for me, the most important thing is that it is interesting to build them. They are in the public eye, they are prejudiced, they are a step and glimpse into the future. Skyscrapers change the public consciousness. The first reaction is normally rejection. We do not accept the unusual standing out of an ordinary row. However the second reaction is that they start being proud of. Once I studied as the second higher education and worked in London and I remember very well the history of the St. Mary Axe Tower by architect Foster in the center of the city. Though it is stilled called Gherkin, it was included in the postcard views of London leaving behind the views of the Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey in relation to its popularity. Skyscrapers appear when they are expected and when the conditions for their emergence have arisen.
– And when they know how to build them. Is it technically complicated?
– On the one hand, everything is quite simple, it resembles the assembly of a house from a construction kit: the foundation which 16-floor blocks will be mounted on one by one and above them the tower pinnacle with observation decks, a restaurant and everything what is needed for visitors. On the other hand, the construction of such a facility requires the high quality of the used materials and works. And a higher quality of the design works. Moscow-based company Gorproekt is dealing with it. However each project is unique. Our almost five hundred meter building transmits 500 000 ton loading to the foundation. It will be exposed to both vertical and horizontal wind load, slightly swinging, some horizontal oscillations can occur, and at the same time comfort should be provided to people inside, a complete comfort is to make them not feel any inconveniences because of these oscillations or just ignore them. Everything is provided for in the design.
– Petersburg dwellers have never dealt with any skyscrapers and it is difficult for a layman to imagine how a half kilometer tower can be fixed strictly vertically. Could you explain its design?
– The principle structure is clear even to a pupil. The central bearing element of the Tower, the so called core is a concrete shaft from the foundations to the very top. Inside it all vertical utilities will be laid, pipes, cables, lifts will be installed. All 86 floors from iron, concrete and glass are threaded onto this shaft as in a children toy pyramid. However the stability of the building is achieved not only with the help of the core. Throughout the height, approximately every 70 meters reinforced concrete bracings are installed from the core to the outer columns, they are called outriggers. These outriggers serve as dampers to reduce horizontal oscillation of the building are often used in high-rise construction to control over the dynamic behavior of the building at strong wind or seismic effects. The metal beams of the floor slabs provide a reliable connection of the outer columns of the building with the central core. This structure has a multiple strength margin and its service life is not limited.
– It resembles a tree wrapped up outside in a steel frame connected with the core. But how will the foundation bear it all? A lot of Petersburg dwellers think that though it is just a poetic metaphor that our city is built on marshlands.
– The foundation comprises two hundred fifty concrete piles embedded into the soil at 65m–85m. They are deepened in the so called Vendian clay similar to the rock in relation to their properties. It would take too long to describe all the technologies of the pile installation and concreting. The only thing I can say is that the best technologies available worldwide were used in the design. The site geological structure was investigated around the tower and at 100m depth. The stable horizontal structure of various layers used for the foundations is verified. As for the marshlands, people tend to take ordinary friable soil covering all the planes for marshland. In our case we do not use them for our foundations and with the help of the piles transmit 500 000 tons to more stable soil. The box-type foundation 20m high will be installed between the piles and the tower which will transmit the loading from the tower to the piles.
– Who will build the skyscraper? It is not a problem to find a foreign contractor but then our builders will not be able to gain experience; master unique technologies which would help them switch from boring frame-monolith building.
– It is more appropriate speaking about the construction of not only the tower but of two blocks adjoining to it, the north and the south blocks, it is an integrated complex. Though the blocks are not so tall, their topmost point is 80m but they are unique too in relation to the structure and technologies applied. For example, multi-storey large-span frames will be required for them which are rarely used in construction and will generate an unusual shape of our building.
As for the general contractor, it is not selected yet, the negotiations are underway with a few famous companies, mainly, foreign companies. In his turn, the general contractor will select subcontractors for specific types of work. However it is obvious that he will not assign much work to foreigners, the main part of the works will be performed by Russian companies, according to a practice worldwide. I do not think that somebody can carry out complicated concrete works in winter better than Russian specialists. During the construction of the foundation for example the general contractor of this stage, Arabtec company from the United Arab Emirates invited as his subcontractors a German company Bauer, Petersburg-based Geostroy and a few other Russian companies. Local builders will be able to gain their experience.
– Can Russian and specifically Petersburg industry count on material supply orders? Or they are so unique that they are not produced here?
– Of course, any company will be able to submit their offers to the future contractor. What is required is much curved glass, high strength concrete of В80 and В60 grade, specialists are aware of what it is, cement for its production, 355 grade steel. Modern glass plants are available in the region but whether they will be able to produce curved glass depends on their mobility and readiness to expand their list of technologies applied.
– Well, no problems are expected with metal. Excellent gun steel, metal for nuclear reactor bodies being much stronger than construction metal have always been produced in Petersburg, have not they?
– What we will need is not just steel but finished structures. Probably for this purpose new production facilities will have to be set up. For the materials used in the construction of skyscrapers will be in demand soon in the construction of new high-rise buildings and in traditional construction. And their price shall be competitive for the project as a whole was originally considered as a payback project.
– But a great deal of public facilities is designed in Lakhta Center apart from commercial areas, is not it?
– You can have it both ways. The main revenue to the complex will be generated by tenants of the offices, it is already known that almost the entire tower will be occupied by Gazprom group companies relocating to St. Petersburg. The upper floors are an observation deck with a restaurant, it will also be paid back. The public facilities will be located in the blocks adjoining to the tower. There is a very publicly significant project there which is being established in collaboration with the city and Petersburg universities, i.e. the establishment of a center for amusing science for children where they will be granted an opportunity to try themselves in a role of a researcher, engineer, geologist and others and the innovation center for young people where educated people will be able to master their profession. Gazprom innovation center is designed there too, a kind of exhibition of advanced technologies and a modern planetarium.
In addition a large transformable hall is designed which can be used as a cinema center and as a concert hall, it also can be paid back. We will establish a multidiscipline medical center, a high class hotel which will be used by tourists and Gazprom group companies’ employees on business trips. And of course, catering facilities will be available, café, restaurants, bars. As early as at the stage of selecting a construction site we took into account that Primorsky district is mainly newly built buildings. Its population is respectful people who bought their flats themselves. And what they are in need of is high quality public services. Both blocks will be open for free access. These and landscaped area, new embankment with an open amphitheater, a park with bike lanes will make Lakhta Center a popular place for citizens to spend their leisure time.
– What are the deadlines of the project?
– At the end of the next year we will ascend above the ground level, the foundation and the substructure will be completed. All the works will be completed in late 2017.
For Petersburg this skyscraper is the first one but in the world the technology of the construction of such facilities has been well-proved so builders know very well what and how they should do.
Figures and Facts
• The complex is designated to accommodate about six thousand employees of tenant companies. The number of service personnel is about two thousand people.
• There will be 53 lifts in the Tower. Some of them will run up to middle floors, some of them up to the top, in addition to these fire lifts are designed which can be used in the event of an emergency threat.
• After terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 the structures of all the skyscrapers under design and construction were drastically revised to avoid a “progressive damage effect” which arose in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Lakhta Center Tower will retain stability even if one or a few bearing elements of the columns, the partitions or walls collapse completely. The fire extinguishing system is able to copy with fire of any difficulty however it is aimed at avoiding any possibility of fire due to a fire water flow sprinkling.
• Lakhta Center buildings are designed according to “green standards” by applying energy-efficient technologies.
• Though Lakhta Center Directorate does not plan any projects outside the boundaries of their site, specialists in the sphere of urban planning do not doubt that Gazrpom-owned complex will become a core of the new business center of Petersburg. It will also facilitated to by transport infrastructure, the vicinity to the Ring Road, Western Speed Diameter, water communication with the other parts of the city can be arranged.
• At present at Lakhta Center site the zero cycle works are underway. By August the works related to the Diaphragm wall and piling for the Tower were completed. At the moment contractors are dealing with the construction of the box-type foundation.