Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
CTBUH Meeting: Russia

September 1-2, 2011
See more CTBUH Tours and Visits

The end of summer is the best time to visit Russia, especially for the first time. Therefore it was ideal for CTBUH Chairman, Professor Sang-Dae Kim and his colleagues Dr. JuHwan Cho and Dr. Kwang-Ryang Chung to visit the current and former Russian capitals – Moscow and Saint-Petersburg - from September 3, 2011 to September 6, 2011.  Despite their significant differences, both Moscow and Saint-Petersburg have trended towards creating new city spaces that conform to the highest international standards.

Professor Sang Dae Kim, Ms. Elena Shuvalova and other CTBUH colleagues at the common meeting in Russia
The first day of September is what Russia marks as “Knowledge Day” because it is traditionally when students begin their studies. This was fitting as this past September 1, 2011, Ms. Elena Shuvalova, chief executive officer of the Lobby Agency and a CTBUH country representative for Russia organized “High-Rise Construction Days”, a series of scientific and practical lectures and technical tours held in Moscow.  The event was a two-day affair concluding on September 2, 2011.  TSNIIEP Zhilisha Scientific and Research Institute together with the Capital Group – both organizational CTBUH members - acted as the main sponsors of the event which was attended by more than 60 people.

A CTBUH delegation from Korea visited Russia and their first stop featured a trip to the Moscow City International Business District on the morning on September 1, 2011.  It included a working visit at the TSNIIEP Zhilisha Research Institute - the primary company in Russia developing a regulatory framework on the construction of high-rise and unique buildings. The general director of TSNIIEP, Stanislav Nikolaev, explained that the employees of TSNIIEP were serving as consultants in various regions of Russia - from Saint-Petersburg to Vladivostok. The CTBUH contingent was also informed about TSNIIEP’s different areas of scientific activities and one of its unique projects in Vladivistok.
Professor Kim presenting the “History of Tall Buildings and Structural Systems   (from left) Professor Kim, Mr. Ju-hwan Cho, and Dr. Kwang Ryang Chung
Following a traditional Russian style lunch served at TSNIIEP Zhilisha, the delegation visited a mixed-use complex - Capital City- which is being developed by the Capital Group as part of the Moscow City International Business District and includes the tallest building in Europe according to the CTBUH.  Ms. Marina Gubanova, director of the Asset Management Department of the Capital Group and Oleg Tverdokhlebov, chief engineer of the Capital City complex presented the group with an overview of the features and specifications of the complex.  

According to Professor Kim, his first impression of the construction technologies and approach to high-rise construction “compares favorably to many other countries". He also commented on the quality of high-rise construction in Russia generally, characterizing it as meeting the highest international standards which makes Russian builders competitive in any international competition centered on quality tall buildings.
Soon after, a small-scale conference themed “Tall Buildings: History and Modernity” which included a focus on South Korea, was held in the Radisson Royal Hotel drawing keen interest from Russian and Byelorussian professionals and stirring a new wave of interest in the CTBUH.  Professor Kim presented at the meeting on the goals of the CTBUH and its activities worldwide and went on to talk about the “History of Tall Buildings and Structural Systems”.   During the presentation, he highlighted modern trends in high-rise construction and analyzed the development of the industry during last the 50 years. Afterwards, the president of SIAPLAN and also a CTBUH representative in Korea, Dr. Ju-Hwan Cho led a presentation on “Architectural Design for Tall Buildings” based on his own experiences in the field. Mr. Kwang-Ryang Chung gave a final presentation - “Outrigger Design: Concepts and Applications” - which generated a lot of interest and solicited various questions and comments from Russian participants.  The lively discussion demonstrated the relevancy of the topics to Russia’s building community.
Conference meeting among tall building industry leaders

Visit to Lakhta Centre

Professor Kim’s visit to Moscow ended with a cultural tour through the Russian capital on September 3rd which included stops at the Kremlin, Sparrow Hills, Red Square, GUM Department Store (famous for its peculiar pricing) and the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Corner where the star composer had written his famous “Swan Lake” ballet.  

On his visit to the former Russian capital Saint-Petersburg (often called the “Russian Venice”), Professor Kim and his associates embarked on an impressive sight-seeing tour through the city which included stops at Hermitage, Aurora Cruiser, and the Isaac Cathedral. Despite the fact there are no significantly tall buildings in the city, the group very much appreciated the rich historical heritage and cultural spirit of the city and found it “very European”. On September 5th the CTBUH delegation had the unique opportunity to see the location of the city’s first planned skyscraper – Lakhta Centre which will have a remarkable view of the Finnish Gulf and is intended to become the headquarters for Gazprom-Neft, a subsidiary of Gazprom.  The final location was partly the result of protests over where the building would be placed.  Opponents of the original project feared that it would spoil the city’s panoramic views as well as the skyline.  As a result, the location for the Gazprom-Neft headquarters was changed to Lakhta – a place at the outskirts of Saint-Petersburg. Travelling to Lakhta by small motor boat, CTBUH leaders were treated to a presentation by Mr. Philip Nikandrov, architect for RMJM, who is responsible for the concept of the project. The site visit continued in the offices of Gazprom-Neft where the CTBUH delegation met with Mr. Alexander Bobkov, the executive director of Gazprom-Neft.  Professor Kim commented on the “modern shape” of the proposed Lakhta Centre which according to Kim had “nothing in common with ordinary boxes”.  The base of the tower is in the shape of a pentagon, like an ancient castle or a fortress.

On the whole, the visit of the CTBUH delegation was significant to Russian building professionals. Both groups saw new opportunities for cooperation with a common goal of creating and modeling modern cities using high-technology and sustainable architecture and engineering. The CTBUH delegation expressed their hope that similar events and overseas exchange of professional experiences will become more frequent. Ironically, a return visit of Russian leaders and industry professionals is not far off.  In October, the delegation of Russian and Byelorussian representatives will attend the annual CTBUH conference, in Seoul, Korea from October 10-12, 2011.