St. Petersburg is the site of one of the greatest ensembles of neo-classical architecture in the world. It is so important that the center of the city has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
The city\'s classical character is threatened by Gazprom\'s proposal to build a tower 396 meters (1,299 feet) tall, designed by the British architectural firm RMJM. This tower would be more than three times as tall as the tallest spire in St. Petersburg, Peter and Paul Cathedral. It would be directly across the River Neva from Smolny Cathedral, which is now considered one of the greatest examples of dramatic siting in Russia. It would be 23 meters taller than the Empire State Building in New York.
The zoning laws at this location allow for a maximum height of 48 meters (157 feet), and the proposed tower is eight times that high. Though the building is not in the city center, it would violate UNESCO\'s intention of preserving views in world heritage sites by dominating the skyline and changing the character of the entire city.
A jury panel that included the city governor and Gazprom representatives decided on this design after accepting proposals from six architectural firms, none with experience at creating designs that are compatible with their historical context. St. Petersburg architects refused to participate in this jury, because only high-rise towers were being considered.
If this building is constructed as currently designed, it will impoverish Russia and the entire world by destroying the neo-classical character of St. Petersburg as a whole, which is one of the world\'s great historic and architectural treasures. It would deprive the public of the opportunity to visit an intact neo-classical city, and it would deprive Russia of its best opportunity to attract heritage tourism.
We, the undersigned, call on Gazprom, on the government of St. Petersburg, and on the government of Russia to preserve the character of St. Petersburg by changing this design to make it compatible with the historic architecture of the city - most importantly by relocating it and reducing its height dramatically, so it does not dominate the city\'s skyline and loom above the city\'s historic buildings.
The Classical City - an international on-line journal dedicated to preserving the classical architectural heritage of St. Petersburg
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