Lakhta Center – a large scale project of the construction of a modern business area in the north-west of Saint Petersburg. Opening in 2018.
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Felix Buyanov, Board member of the Saint-Petersburg Union of Architects, Secretary of the Youth Outreach Council of the Saint-Petersburg Union of Architects, Architectural workshop B2:
Petersburg skyline is not a dull frozen horizontal, it's alive! And what makes it alive, it is an alternation of horizontals and vertical spikes (this was especially true prior to mass demolition of church buildings in the historical center of the city). The huge sharp contrast of the main vertical centerpieces - spires and domes, and the horizontal "background buildings" is a special charm of Saint-Petersburg panoramas. From this perspective, the high-rise accent in Lakhta is good… I believe the most important thing in this case is an elegant silhouette, and it should be expected from the developer, but not prohibited "just in case." The situation is carried to the point of absurdity mostly due to the fact that people are afraid of critical decisions, and many are simply speculating, being unable to create. As regards the impact on historical panoramas, the tower at its new site in Lakhta is safe, in this sense. And the graceful silhouette of a skyscraper there may be of a great height… Placing a building of a greater stated height in Lakhta is the right decision. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Sviatoslav Gaikovich, head of the architectural bureau Studio 17, member of the Town-planning Council of Saint-Petersburg, Board member of the Saint-Petersburg Branch of the Russian Union of Architects:
The new Gazprom that is virtual so far, is better than the old one. The Lakhta site announced in the media is twice as far from the historical center than Okhta cape, on the average. On this new site, there is a certain intuitive sense of freshness, air flow by westerly wind, openness towards the ring road and towards the closest - Scandinavian - economic centers of civilization. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Vladimir Grigoriev, Architect, member of the Association of Architectural Workshops, member of the Union of Architects. V.A. Grigoriev is the head of architectural firms
ZAO Eagle Group St. Petersburg and OOO Grigoryev & Partners, member of the Town-planning Council of Saint-Petersburg:
I do believe that all the talk about preserving a unique Saint-Petersburg is a bit excruciating. It has been Leningrad. And why would we suddenly start to protect Leningrad? There's no longer such Petersburg as Edinburgh, Rome or Salzburg. Protruding pipes, high-rise buildings in the center, dissonant buildings…
They moved the Okhta Center to Lakhta - so it's excellent! If the city builds big buildings - it is very good. Beautiful buildings are even better! By foreign companies - no problem! If they serve as centers of urbanization and city-forming projects, if taxes begin to flow into the city, and the flow pours over the top, and they begin to spill over as asphalt on the roads, pensions for the elderly, additional payments to doctors and teachers… then I personally can be only positive on this.
Five hundred meters in height?! Why not? There is a concept of aerial perspective. Look in good weather along Voznesensky Prospect from the center to the south - you'll see a tower. A discreet, maybe somewhat strange tower, but not dreadful at all. It is about ten kilometers from the center. Incidentally, even KGIOP [Committee on State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks] acknowledges that the perception of historical landscape can be affected by visibility of an object at a distance of no more than six kilometres. In Egypt, objects can be seen for 50 km. And we have clouded sky here... (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Yury Zemtsov, Honored Architect of Russia, member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, full member of the International Academy of Architecture in Moscow, Associate Professor in Repin State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, member of the Secretariat of the Board of the Saint-Petersburg Union of Architects and the Board of the Union of Architects of Russia, head of own creative architectural studio and director of the Architectural bureau Zemtsov, Kondiain and Partners, member of the Town-planning Council of Saint-Petersburg, member of the Association of Architectural Workshops:
I did not like the Okhta Center project because of its banality. Of course, it is difficult to invent something unique in a skyscraper, but none the less our city deserves a departure from the ordinary.
In any case, it is good that it has been relocated. The focus building in Lakhta will not cause such acute rejection, as at the turn of Neva. In Lakhta, we can allow even a 400-meter height. This is not Okhta, where appearance of the colossus would be completely out of scale. I think if there is a skyscraper in Lakhta, it is likely to acquire a bunch of tall buildings, and eventually will become a City. And this is not bad. In this urbanized area, near water, a large business center can be accommodated. We must realize that the skyscraper is a necessary type of modern buildings. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Leonid Lavrov, Doctor of architecture, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, Professor, Head of Architectural Engineering Department in Saint-Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering:
The new location has the advantage - the developer here has a discretion and enough territory. The architectural task requires development of the undoubted focus building. In our Department, we discussed the possibility of creating a high-rise building in this area of the city… A high-rise building at the entrance to the city will be well perceived from the Gulf of Finland as a kind of lighthouse. The large area is a field to implement a variety of options. It's necessary to create a complex to include offices and residential area, infrastructure facilities, and may be a heliport. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Andrei Sharov, member of the Saint-Petersburg Union of Architects, member of the Town-planning Council of Saint-Petersburg, Autonomous Non-Commercial Organisation "Reinberg & Sharov. Architectural studio":
The new site can give a new look at the project. Maybe this is a really good way out of the current situation: a new breath of air, a new storyline, a new vision basically…
Everyone is tired of the long discussions around Okhta Center. Today, there is a compromise.
Those who want to proceed with the construction, have very clear arguments: we must move forward and develop the city and the technology i deed and not barely in word.
There are, of course, doubts that a project of such height can be implemented so soon. And not only for urban development reasons, but also from a technology perspective. Maybe Gazprom will be able to implement its plan.
The city needs such projects. It needs it for new experience of creating significant buildings in a reasonable time. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Nikita Yavein, Honored Architect of Russia, head of the Architectural bureau Studio 44, corresponding member of the International Academy of Architecture in Moscow, member of the Academic Board for Preservation of Cultural Heritage of Saint-Petersburg, member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, Professor in Repin State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Art Academy), member of the Town-planning Council of Saint-Petersburg, member of the Association of Architectural Workshops:
Relocation of the Gazprom Center itself is a huge benefit. This is not about its visibility from somewhere, this is about the fact that it is going to be a new city. In fact, although not a warpland, but the new land. Office of the monopolist is now in a clear position; it defines a vector of development in the direction of the water, a vector in the direction of public relations development. Hopefully, it will be a certain core of a new area, an alternative for offices in the center of the city. The transport solution is clear - the Western High Speed Diameter, and further the Ring Road. (Kapitel magazine No. 1(19) 2011)
Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to UNESCO:
A large area of Saint-Petersburg falls within preservation and buffer zones provided for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. That is why the Okhta Center which had been planned by Gazprom in front of Smolny Cathedral was moved to Lakhta. The approved construction project for Lakhta Center is located far from the buffer zone and the historical center, so in theory Gazprom is not even obliged to ask UNESCO. However, the government authorities will definitely have consultations for the project with UNESCO. Now we are working to clarify the boundaries of World Heritage zone and the boundaries of the buffer zone. This is a normal routine. (www.gazeta.ru)
Dmitry Nekrestyanov, Head of Real Estate and Investment Department, Kachkin & Co,
thinks that high-rise construction outside the historic center is reasonable and substantiated economically and architecturally. "The experience of Paris and London with their Defense and City is suitable enough for Saint Petersburg as well. Personally I like the idea of a new Gazprom site and if they drastically change the traffic access in that district, then a bunch of high-rise buildings may be built there", says Mr. Nekrestyanov.
Alexander Voloshin, Head of Investment Consultancy Department, Astera in alliance with Paribas Real Estate, assessed the quantity of investments into the project by taking into account the construction of infrastructure facilities within the site at no less than USD 2 bln. “Of course, the project implementation will give an impulse for the development of the city’s business component.. The synergy of such a complex will be very high, the construction of a skyscraper may be considered as a beginning of a comprehensive development of the area. Gazprom can take a financial participation in the engineering preparation of the area where in future private investors will be drawn to”, said the expert.
Dmitry Kovalev, Leading Scientific Specialist of the Biologic and Soil Faculty of Saint Petersbrug State University:
— In parallel with the construction of a business center in Lakhta a lot of problems may be resolved, for example, the improvement of an ecologic situation around the site (Rossiyskaya newspaper).
Аlexander Karpov,Director of the Center of Expertise ECOM, one of Petersburg city preservationists, a member of the group which meets with Governor of the city Valentina Matvienko on a regular basis:
“…in the selection of the site on Lakhtinsky Prospect for the construction of Okhta Skyscraper the city conservationists see no breach of the law. “There is Law 870–7on the boundaries and regimes of the protected areas. Under this law among others a 6km vista from the St. Isaac’s Cathedral is also to be protected”, says Karpov. The previous project implying the construction of a tower on Okhta promontory broke this law, the location of the building was 5,5km from the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. As for a new site there is no breach: it is located 9km away from the Cathedral. Moreover, Okhta promontory is located in the area of the regulated development. A new site is outside the protective area and there are no construction restrictions over there. “In fact the skyscraper will be seen from Dvotsovaya square however without any aggressive intrusion into the landscape, dominating, changing panorama”, says Mr. Karpov. “There should not be any archeological problems because a sand yard is located there, says Karpov. I hope that no historic and cultural problems arise”. This site is located at a beneficial and favourable place. To the north a nature reserve is located, it is an ecologically pure district. In the west there is a resort area, a cottage area. To the north an elite residential complex is planned to be built. Not so far there is a western speed diameter via which it will be easy to get to the airport and along the embankments to Smolny”, Mr. Karpov enumerated the advantages of the new site purchased by Gazprom. The only question outstanding at the moment is that over the nature reserve area there are routes of migrating birds and a certain conflict of interests between the birds and Gazprom, probably if the skyscraper is 400m tall, it can somehow impede the birds, he says. However birds are cleverer than people, we will hope that everything will be OK”. (GZT.ru)
Director General, Knight Frank St.Petersburg, Nikolay Pashkov:
— This site is one of the most attractive from the point of view of the location of the headquarters of a large company out of all the sites which were proposed to Gazprom. “Above all, it is connected with the fact that it is located on the coast of a bay and it enables firstly to gain spectacular vistas and secondly there is an opportunity to create a prominent visual accent from the site of the bay. The site is located fairly far from the city’s center so there are no strict urban planning restrictions over there. According to the experts’ assessment, at the site purchased up to 600k sq.m. can be built. At the moment the Western Speed Diameter is being built, the master plan also includes the construction of another metro line with the station in the area of Savushkina street hence by the dates comparable to the implementation of the project the transport situation will have been improved, he says. (RBK, Vedomosti)
Eugenia Vasilieva, Deputy Director of Consultancy Department, Colliers International:
— "The advantage of the project on Okhta promontory was that it was located closer to the center, the traffic logistics was better. The advantages of the project in Lakhta are perfect vistas both onwards the water and from the Gulf of Finland. There shouldn’t be any complexities with obtaining approvals of the height and the project can be adjusted to the particularities of a new site” (Kommersant)
Head of the Department for Projects and Analytic Research, ARIN, Zosya Zakharova
believes that any site proposed to the company will be a success. “In my opinion, the project of Okhta Center is unique and as it is it is a magnet which will draw all the main infrastructure facilities. It is able to create a business area and a premium class residential area. Hence in principle the project could have been located in any district of the city and it will be able to adjust and draw attention and additional flows in the form of finances and in the form of the development of the surroundings everywhere. (Fontanka).
Pavel Pikalev, Director General, Penny Lane Realty in Saint Petersburg,
points out that those who supported the idea of the construction of Okhta Center in Petersburg did so primarily because of an enormous positive impact which this project would make on the city as a whole and on the area of Okhta in particular. In his opinion, the project of Gazprom has already had a serious impact on the development of Okhta: new business center have been built, industrial facilities have been rehabilitated. “Now the north-west of the city will gain an impulse to develop, keeping in mind that Primorsky and Kurortny districts are developing in a more dynamic way than any other, which will be speeded up by the completion of the construction of the Ring Road and Western Speed Diameter, said mr. Pikalev. The disadvantage of the new location is the lack of a metro station. (Vzglyad Ru)
Coordinator of a Public Organization Live City, Antonina Yeliseyeva:
“From the very beginning we have discussed that Gazrpom Center, it is incorrect calling it Okhta Center now, is to be built at a large distance from the city. Lakhta has been called a more suitable location. The built tower of Lakhta Center can spoil the skyline too however it will be more difficult to do it. “It is practically impossible, says Eliseyeva. So the news is really very cheerful. Gazprom has not left the city and all the good qualities of the project will be implemented without damaging an architectural image”. A well-known political scientist Yuliy Rybakov agrees with it who was opposed to the construction of Gas skyscraper on Okhta previously. “Gazprom is a company which in any case will bring some dividends to the city, he said, and it is good that the company will remain in Saint Petersburg and will transfer monies to the city’s budget. (Rosbalt, Firstnews)
Deputy Director General, Institute for Territorial Development, Vladimir Avrutin.
— One thing can be said in advance — the distance from this site up to the Peter and Paul Fartress and main city’s attractions is more than 6km stipulated in the law. In the previous project the distance from the site to the Peter and Paul Fortress and main sights is more than 6km as set out in the law. Under the previous project this rule was broken, the part of the center of the city was inside a 6km area. Even if the tower 400m tall is seen from somewhere I suspect that it will definitely be seen then it is a pretext to discuss to which extent the norms fixed in laws are correct. However in order to state whether the skyscraper will intrude into the panorama of the city or not, an assessment is to be done. I can not assess it in advance (Fontanka).
Deputy Director General, Okhta Group, Konstantin Kovalev.
“Location-wise it is very convenient. However as opposed to Moscow in Saint Petersburg the height of the buildings is very strictly fixed and what is taller than 40m is to be built on the outskirts of the city. However this cozy district of the northern capital does not belong to such districts”. (Slon.Ru)
Аndrey Berezin, Head of Investigation Department, CJSC Tekhprogress:
“Construction is possible everywhere, the only thing is the type and structures of foundations. The soils in Lakhta can not put any obstacle there. A skyscraper can be built there, 100% confident”. (vKrizis.ru)
Anton Stroganov, General Director, Greenwich LLC:
— I think that the location is suitable. The soil is acceptable there… We drilled there at 10m-15m, and everything was OK there. (vKrizis.ru)