Twist of Fate
Public Backlash Pushed Europe's New Tallest Building in a Different Direction
PHOTO COURTESY OF GAZPROM
“It seemed to us that St. Petersburg has never been afraid to move forward in the path of history.”
—Sotiris Tsoulos, principal, RMJM Istanbul, to The Wall Street Journal
Something new stands out in the low-rise skyline of St. Petersburg, Russia: a twisting 462-meter (1,516-foot) skyscraper. Known as the Lakhta Center, Europe's tallest building eventually will house the new corporate headquarters of the state-owned gas giant Gazprom.
Due for completion later this year, the building will feature an observation deck, sports complex, planetarium, restaurants and shops, along with offices. Aiming to create a vibrant mixed-use community, design firm RMJM incorporated landscaped green space, including a promenade with fountains and an open-air amphitheater.
But the project triggered controversy soon after being proposed for St. Petersburg's city center in 2005. Its leaders encountered a common European stakeholder concern around metropolitan building projects—the skyscraper would detract from centuries-old architecture and picturesque views. After years of public stakeholder backlash, Gazprom agreed to relocate the project more than 5 miles (8 kilometers) to the outskirts of the city on the Gulf of Finland.
Primorsky district, St. Petersburg, Russia
BUILT TO SHINE
The project will set a record for the largest volume of glass ever used in a skyscraper.