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City news, 07.05.2007 15:54

121-Meter ‘Petersburg Spire’ Fails to Inspire

spire_Gazprom By Evgenia Ivanova

Staff Writer

While many still argue that the building of Gazprom’s skyscraper in St. Petersburg will destroy its low historic skyline, another plan to build another tower received permission from the city’s planning council Apr.13, Fontanka news agency reported.

The 35 million euro glass and steel “Petersburg Spire” is intended to serve as an observation structure and represents a giant doughnut-shaped capsule that goes up, down and around the 121-meter steel shaft.

The Spire boasts that it will allow visitors to see the city from a height almost twice as high as that of St. Isaac’s Cathedral colonnade, currently generates the best view of the city.

The location for the new tower has not been finalized yet. But according to the experts who took part in the Council’s meeting, the most probable site is Ploshchad Truda, a square nearby New Holland Island.

And not everyone is happy with the choice.

Mikhail Milchik, a St. Petersburg-based member of the Federal Council on the Preservation of Cultural Heritage said that the Petersburg Spire, if built on Ploshchad Truda, will be completely out of place.

“This square is one of the city’s conservation areas where new buildings are banned, and only the renovation of the old ones is allowed,” Milchik said.

“The nearby New Holland will have its own vertical dominance, the top part of the Palace of Festivals, and therefore to bring such a big number of novelties into this old area is extremely inappropriate,” Milchik told The St. Petersburg Times on Thursday.

Milchik also pointed out that the visual competition between the entertainment Spire and St. Petersburg’s historic symbol of the Peter and Paul Fortress would be bad for the city’s image.

But regardless of all of the opinions mentioned above and the fact that the square is one of the most congested areas in the entire city, with the situation expected to deteriorate in future when the Palace of Festivals with its 3500 capacity is to be opened, the city authorities say the square is the best location for the new sightseeing tower.

“Ploshchad Truda is an optimal location, because there’s no other big and beautiful square in the city, apart from Palace Square, but you obviously can’t put the Spire there,” Vitaly Ritstsi, director of the state-run Agency of City Marketing said. “It has not been decided for sure whether or not the tower will be built, but there’s a 99 percent probability that it will be erected and on this precise location,” he said.

As for the transportation problems, Ritstsi said he believes they will be solved by the ring road by the time the Spire is built.

The Petersburg Spire is planned to be built roughly in 2009. It was designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield, who are also the masterminds behind one of London’s landmarks, the giant Ferries wheel of ‘The London Eye.’

The idea behind the tower is to give people the experience, similar to that London Eye which the offers, but in other locations, David Marks of says in his interview posted on the MarksBarfield website.

“It’s getting people up high to appreciate views that they would not have been able to appreciate by any other means,” Marks said.

A tower of its kind has not been built anywhere yet, but Brighton, one of the largest and most famous seaside resorts in England, will get one called i360 in 2008.

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(c) 2000