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St. Petersburg Now Home To Tallest Building In Europe, Moscow #2

"On Monday, a spire was installed on the new office center of Gazprom, and the tower reached the design height of 462 meters."

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Russia is barrelling ahead with major state-backed construction and infrastructure projects - light rail lines, rapidly expanding metros in major cities, major roads and highways, new airports, etc. etc.

The Lakhta center in St. Petersburg is another high-profile project intended to make a statement to the world that Russia is open for business and looking to the future.

The following clip taken from Russian nightly news, with transcript below shows just how the feat was achieved.

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The Lakhta Center business complex building on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in St. Petersburg is now the highest in Europe. On Monday, a spire was installed on the new office center of Gazprom, and the tower reached the design height of 462 meters.

Prior to this, the Federation Tower in the Moscow City district was the highest European skyscraper, its height is 374 meters. Lakhta Centre is a unique architectural project, in which ultramodern engineering solutions and the latest building materials were used.

Soon, it’ll become not only the main point of business activity in the City on the Neva but its decoration as well.

Yekaterina Fisenko observed the installation of the spire at a height of 500 meters.

The Lakhta Center’s spire is prepared for the flight just like a rocket. Installation of the last wires, checkup of sensors and aviation lights. It’s launched into the sky with the help of a crane. Without the use of helicopters, the structure soars into the sky.

At a height of almost half a kilometer, gusts of wind would knock people down. Only two installers hang on the lines. Frost, an icy spire. This precision operation is almost like a spacecraft docking. And there are just a few minutes to ensure that the Lakhta Centre tower reached its design height.

462 meters is an incredible height. The highest skyscraper in Europe and the most northern in the world is the pride and joy of the entire international team of construction workers. Unique speeds, unique materials and technology. It would seem that St. Petersburg, built on a swamp, can’t have such heights, but they just had to dig deeper.

Sergey Nikiforov, chief engineer: "We have 264 piles under the tower which are next to the bay, 100 meters from the bay. But we checked all of them, all the wells were dry, we tested them, and only after that we poured in the concrete and lowered the frame." This is also a world record. Two and a half hundred piles with a diameter of two meters go into the unstable Petersburg grounds to a depth of 30 floors. The lower base plate was filled in 49 hours.

18,000 people work here every day in two shifts, and this gigantic structure grew at an enormous rate. One level every week. Very complex geometry, not one floor is repeated.

Yelena Ilyukhina, director of Lakhta Center: "We have the most complicated facade in terms of its design. Almost no element is repeated in the facade of the tower. This is an individual job. In fact, the tower expands, then narrows, then twists into a tailspin."

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It was possible to make this twist thanks to an amazing construction. Columns inside the building are an absolute know-how. Composite materials, for the creation of this engineering miracle, new construction standards were developed.

Sergey Smirnov, Head of Production and Technical Department: "Outwardly, it’s an ordinary concrete column of about 1.5 meters in size. But its peculiarity is in the fact that it’s inclined in two planes. And its peculiarity is also in the fact that it has a steel core inside it that performs the role of reinforcement."

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The core of the building is like a spine and holds all 87 floors. Inside, there’ll be vertical communications. In the same place, there’ll be high-speed elevators, some of them with two levels. A two-meter thick concrete ring rises to the very top. Now, it even supports the 500-meter high tower cranes.

Sergey Smirnov: “The crane is behind the facade. The crane is very high, so for it to be stable, we need we need to fix it to the building in several points. We do it with the help of such metal construction. It connects the crane and the building's core as the firmest construction. The facade of the building is a special pride. This is when the glass is able to think. There are so many sensors! External walls will make the decision themselves, whether to lower or raise the blinds, turn on heating or air conditioning.”

The facade consists of bonded double-glazed windows, each of which also has its own individual shape and makes the tower light and airy.

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And the views will be available not only to the Gazprom employees. Here you will find a children's science center, a state-of-the-art concert hall, a planetarium, a fitness center. St. Petersburg residents and the Northern Capital visitors can see not just the city, but, it seems, the whole region from a bird's-eye view.

Peter the First built the sea capital of Russia with architectural dominants of the Admiralty and the Peter and Paul Fortress. But the city began to acquire its sea facade only now. And the Lakhta Center tower with its spire and aviation lights is the dominant not only in St. Petersburg, not only in Russia but in all of Europe.

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