What masterpieces were built by famous foreign architects in Russia?

July 20, 2017 Alexandra Guzeva
While the topic hasn’t garnered much press coverage over the past 20 years, the stars of world architecture have been quite busy in Russia.

Since the earliest days, foreign architects have been active in the Russian lands. In the Middle Ages, Italians played an important role building the Kremlin and the earliest Moscow churches. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the tsars and tsarinas turned to Italian and French architects to build St. Petersburg, while in the second half of the 19th century architects from northern Europe become more prominent, especially with the Art Nouveau.

In the 21st century, foreign architects face a more complicated political and social terrain, and they are not always welcomed for various reasons: highly innovative projects sometimes don’t match the aesthetic tastes of many Russians, and other times the projects are simply too expensive.

Nevertheless, the contemporary Russian architectural scene has a number of success stories of great buildings designed by foreigners.

1. Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, by Rem Koolhaas

Garage Museum in Gorky Park Iwan Baan/OMA

Garage Museum in Gorky Park

Soviet mosaics inside the museum Iwan Baan/OMA

Soviet mosaics inside the museum

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Iwan Baan/OMA

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

 
1/3
 

The prominent Dutch architect and his company OMA took the challenge to reconstruct an old Soviet restaurant and turn it into the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

Under contract from Russia’s most famous art patron, Dasha Zhukova, Koolhaas turned the ruins of an abandoned Soviet building into a modern polycarbonate rectangular construction with emphasis on functionality. Inside, however, he left the remaining decorative elements such as tile and mosaic panel.

"In this project I show respect for that epoch and atmosphere of the 1960s. Soviet metaphors are still inside," Koolhaas said.

The architect also worked on a project for a new district in St. Petersburg called the Baltic Pearl, but it was finally built by Chinese architect Heng Li and Pacific Studio Arсhitecture.

2. The Dominion Tower, by Zaha Hadid

Inside the Dominion Tower Ilya Ivanov

Inside the Dominion Tower

The Dominion Tower Ilya Ivanov

The Dominion Tower

Inside the Dominion Tower Ilya Ivanov

Inside the Dominion Tower

 
1/3
 

This Iraqi-British architect and designer, who started her career in Koolhaas’s OMA, has two futuristic buildings in Russia.

First, an office building in Moscow, the Dominion Tower, was built in Hadid’s favorite deconstructivist style. The project was conceived in 2005 and work began in 2008. Due to the global financial crisis, however, it was postponed and the building opened only in September 2015.

The Tower truly sticks out amid its surroundings; it’s a futuristic geometrical building in the middle of an industrial zone on Sharikoposhipnikovskaya Street in Moscow.


Read more: New Zaha Hadid's creation worth 36,5 mln USD opens in Moscow

Another building by this famous woman is a private house in the Barvikha luxury village. Rumor says that Russian businessman Vladislav Doronin had it built for his then girlfriend, supermodel Naomi Campbell. The house is called Capital Hill Residence and looks like a space shuttle.

3. Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster Mriya Resort & Spa

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster Mriya Resort & Spa

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster Mriya Resort & Spa

Premium class hotel complex in Crimea, by Norman Foster

 
1/3
 

British architect Norman Foster, author of the Millennium Bridge in London, built the luxury Mriya Resort & Spa Hotel 25 kilometers from Yalta. The hotel is in the form of Lotus petals, and has 422 rooms, a conference hall, a spa zone and a private area with villas.

Foster, however, had several projects in Russia that didn’t come to fruition and which were canceled due to the financial crisis. For example, the planned 612-meter high "Russia Tower" in the Moscow City complex was started but then demolished, and the area was eventually turned into a parking garage.

4. Golden Bridge in Vladivostok, by Norman Foster

Lightning strikes the city skyline at night beyond the Golden bridge on Golden Horn Bay in Vladivostok Getty Images

Lightning strikes the city skyline at night beyond the Golden bridge on Golden Horn Bay in Vladivostok

A view of the bridge from the lighthouse on the Basargin Cape. Yuri Smityuk/TASS

A view of the bridge from the lighthouse on the Basargin Cape.

A general view of the bridge behind a statue of Saints Cyril and Methodius who invented Cyrillics Yuri Smityuk/TASS

A general view of the bridge behind a statue of Saints Cyril and Methodius who invented Cyrillics

 
1/3
 

Soviet authorities always wanted to make Vladivostok better than a certain other city just across the Pacific – San Francisco. So, Foster was charged with building the Golden Bridge - a breathtaking structure that stretches more than 1.3 kilometers and which is now Vladivostok’s main symbol. This cable-stayed construction hangs above the Golden Horn Bay and was erected for the APEC summit in 2012.

Foster is also building the head office for the Russian Copper Company, and construction should be finished by 2019.

5. Academy of Chess in Khanty-Mansiysk, by Erick Van Egeraat

Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk. Vladimir Fedorenko/RIA Novosti

Chess Academy in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Chess Academy at night Vladimir Fedorenko/RIA Novosti

Chess Academy at night

 
1/2
 

Dutch architect Erick Van Egeraat has been working in Russia since the early 2000s saying that the country has great potential. He built the Academy of Chess in Khanty-Mansiysk, winning the Best Building Award in 2011.  

Van Egeraat was originally slated to design the City of Capitals towers for the Moscow City International Business Center. The project, however, was deemed too complicated and the contract was instead given to the American architecture firm, NBBJ.

6. Vershina Mall in Surgut, by Erick Van Egeraat

Vershina Mall in Surgut Vershina

Vershina Mall in Surgut

Inside the mall Vershina

Inside the mall

 
1/2
 

The 2012 Best Building Award went to another of Van Egeraat’s project – the Vershina Mall in Surgut that allows visitors to walk around clockwise.

Van Egeraat also came up with the design to reconstruct the Dynamo Stadium in St. Petersburg, which should have been completed for the 2018 World Cup. The Architectural Heritage Preservation Society, however, decided the project was too innovative, and the project was given to a Russian architecture studio.

7. New Stage of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, by Diamond Schmitt Architects

New Stage of the Mariinsky Theater on Kryukov channel in St. Petersburg Diamond Schmitt Architects

New Stage of the Mariinsky Theater on Kryukov channel in St. Petersburg

Inside the new building Diamond Schmitt Architects

Inside the new building

The lobby of the new building Alexei Danichev/RIA Novosti

The lobby of the new building

 
1/3
 

Valery Gergiev, head of the Mariinsky Theater, came up with the idea of a new theater in 1997, and when a competition was held five international architectural firms put in bids. French architect Dominique Perrault won, but some time later he was booted from the project and the new theater was completed by Canada's Diamond Schmitt Architects. According to rumors, the new company was chosen personally by Gergiev.

The new Mariinsky, however, is considered a failure. Architectural critic Grigory Revzin called it “something between a department store and McDonalds.”

Read more: Mariinsky's new stage causes debates among theatre fans

8. St. Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena, by Kisho Kurokawa

St. Petersburg stadium on Krestovsky Island Ruslan Shamukov/RIA Novosti

St. Petersburg stadium on Krestovsky Island

68,000-seat football stadium was built at the cost of 43 billion rubles (about $782 million) Nikolay Gyngazov/Global Look Press

68,000-seat football stadium was built at the cost of 43 billion rubles (about $782 million)

St. Petersburg arena at night Ruslan Shamukov/RIA Novosti

St. Petersburg arena at night

 
1/3
 

This is one of the most drawn-out and expensive construction projects in recent history, and it changed names several times during construction – Zenit, Zenit-Arena, Gazprom-Arena. The stadium was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. First, it was announced that 6.7 billion rubles ($113 million) would be needed, but in 2007 the architect died just as work began. The stadium’s price tag constantly increased and finally reached 43 billion rubles ($728 million) when it opened in 2017.

9. New terminal of Pulkovo Airport, by Grimshaw Architects

New terminal of Pulkovo Airport Grimshaw Architects

New terminal of Pulkovo Airport

Futuristic golden lines of Pulkovo Grimshaw Architects

Futuristic golden lines of Pulkovo

Outside the new terminal Grimshaw Architects

Outside the new terminal

 
1/3
 

The first terminal of St. Petersburg’s only airport was built between 1936 and 1950, (with construction coming to a standstill during the Second World War). Then, the Pulkovo-2 terminal was built in 1980, and there have been no new additions since. Even though the city is Russia’s top tourist mecca, all passengers arriving by air had to pass through these two antiquated terminals. So, in 2013 a project led by Grimshaw Architects (U.K.) in collaboration with Ramboll (Denmark) and Pascall+Watson (U.K.), built a new terminal. The design is said to be inspired by St. Petersburg churches, palaces and landscapes with its bridges and islands.

10.  Zaryadye Park in Moscow, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Project of Zaryadye Park Press Photo

Project of Zaryadye Park

Project of Zaryadye Park Press photo

Project of Zaryadye Park

 
1/2
 

New York-based design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro won the competition to build a park in the center of Moscow near the Kremlin. About 13 hectares are now under construction, to be opened in September.

The project is ambitious, and one of its main features will be four climate zones. There will also be a Philharmonic concert hall and a hotel complex. Another feature will be a floating walking bridge that will offer stunning views.

Read more: 10 amazing transformations Russian cities are set to experience in 2017

+
Like us on Facebook