St. Petersburg Skyscraper: Appealing or Appalling?
It’s 1,300 feet high, towering far above the elegant city laid out by Peter the Great, and four times higher than the maximum building limit established by city planners to preserve the architectural integrity of the czarist-era city. Developers of the controversial new Gazprom office building received the green light this week from the governor of St. Petersburg to start construction on the tallest skyscraper in Europe. Not everyone’s pleased about it. The London Times reports:
UNESCO expressed “grave concern” in July about the impact of the tower and warned Russian officials that it could place St. Petersburg on the “World Heritage in Danger” list next year. It urged them to suspend work on the project, adopt a different design and submit a report by February on measures to protect the 306-year-old city centre.
Will the UNESCO warnings be heeded? The Times thinks not, because Gazprom is the most powerful company in Russia and has close ties to President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin; in addition, the governor of St. Petersburg, Valentina Matviyenko, is one of Mr Putin’s most loyal appointees.
A Times’ reader commented:
I spent 2 years living in Beijing (in another country prone to bouts of “look at me and how powerful I desperately want you to think I am”
style building) – there is no life around the new developments there, they breathe a cold soullessness and only assume any elegance when viewed from a minimum of a kilometer distance. With the low sun of St.
Petersburg the shadows cut by this will also be huge.
What do you think? Should the skyscraper be built? For more information on St. Petersburg, see our Places of a Lifetime series here, with photo galleries, quizzes, walking tours, hotel and restaurant recommendations, entertainment and nightlife, cultural tips, music, books and recipes.
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