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High-rise buildings

High-rise buildingsHIGH-RISE BUILDINGS As a rule, those buildings that have more than 26 stories are called high-rises. In the history of the Moscow architecture this term has been usually applied to seven high-rise buildings having 26-32 stories. They were built in the late 1940s - early 1950s under the uniform town-planning design approved by the special decree of the USSR Council of Ministers (1947). They are: 1. The M.Lomonosov Moscow State University; 2. The USSR Ministry of foreign affairs and Ministry of Foreign trade on Smolenskaya square; 3. The administrative and apartment edifice on former Lermontovskaya square (now Krasnie Vorota square); 4. The Leningradskaya hotel 5. The Ukraine hotel; 6. The apartment building on Vosstania square 7. The apartment building on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment.

All these buildings have a common composition design. They are of the same single stepped configuration, are tiled with natural or man-made stones and decorated with monumental sculpture groupings.

The high-rise buildings are open to observation from afar and play an extremely important role for orientation. Complex skeleton reinforced concrete and steel structures were used for their construction.

Moscow's eight high-rise buildings (one of them was not completed) should have enriched the previous architectural styles, determined the city's supporting spots and accentuated its vertical marks.

Many churches and bell towers were destroyed during Moscow's reconstruction in the 1930s. Also at that time there appeared various many-storied buildings and the city's profile was dramatically changed. Moscow was risking to lose one of its traditional peculiarities. It was hoped that along with creating high-rises' belt the tradition of the ancient Russian architecture - the dominating position of Moscow's legendary gleaming church cupolas in the city landscape - would be revived. Especially important and prestigious sites were chosen for constructing high-rise buildings so as to establish the system of new starting points in the heart of the city. Though they were to be connected with its historic center.

Stylistically all high-rise buildings demonstrate an apparent return to the architecture of the 1930s.

If the weather is good, at least four of them can be seen from the observation post on Vorobjovy Hills from where the whole city is in full view.

There were quite a few architects who designed the high-rises. But the plan to position them in Moscow was worked out by D.N.Tchechulin who also designed one of them - on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment and who was Moscow's chief architect from 1951 till 1960.

Tchechulin's high-rises like church bell towers never stand in the line of streets and prospects, but they are always somewhere behind houses. They rival American skyscrapers. However, judging from Moscow's plan it is obvious that they in fact turned the city into one huge megaKremlin becoming its towers. The Moscow State University building looks like a bell tower placed down the river as was the case with ancient monasteries. The high-rises represent a synthesis of gigantism in the classicism and Old Russian architectural and planning decisions. Construction works on the eighth high-rise ? Palace of Soviets ? were never completed, later the Moskva Swimming pool was built on its foundation and just recently Temple of Christ, the Savior, was restored. Palace of Soviets should have dominated the city because there were plans to crown this colossus with the gigantic stature of Stalin.

During these same years two more buildings reminiscent of Moscow's high-rises were constructed in Riga (the Latvian Academy of Sciences) and Warsaw (Palace of Culture and Science).

In the 1960s-1980s high-storied buildings kept appearing in the city and many of them are much higher than those old high-rises. But the new ones are totally different (take, for example, modernist and postmodernist boxes of the Intourist and Kosmos hotels, the buildings of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid, Gidroproekt, Izmailovo tourist complex, House of Tourists and others)

However, in the 1990s the city witnessed and is still witnessing construction of new buildings that by their stylistics and symmetry of stepped configurations copy the old high-rises. The similarity is not that striking when the exterior is made of glass and metal (the GAZPROM building) but it becomes evident in the architecture of apartment buildings on Mozhaiskoe highway and New Arbat, in Kuntsevo, on Dolgorukovskaya street, Vernadskiy prospect and of the Scarlet Sails residential complex on the bank of the Moscow River. The Moscow-City complex on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment is still under construction. Its central tower will be 115 meters high.

The attitude towards 'Stalin's hillocks' was never simple. But right now it can already be said with confidence that exactly those high-rises were determining the capital's appearance in the second half of the 20th century.


The M.Lomonosov Moscow State University is the most significant high-rise building in the city. This is a grand symmetrical complex consisting of multi-tiered, 36-storey tower (its height is 240 meters) crowned with the 58 meter high spire. There is a star on the end of the spire with ears of 9 meters in diameter. The star is covered by yellow glass with aluminum amalgam. The tower is adjoined by lower buildings (15-18 stories).


The 29-storied Ukraine hotel is 170 meters high. It is located in the very advantageous place, near the steepest curve of the Moscow River where it is crossed by the New Arbat-Kutuzovskiy prospect highway. That is why the building is perceived as one of the main points of Moscow. The hotel itself is located in the central building and the side ones with 8 and 10 stories are meant for residential apartments.


This high-rise consists of the central 22-storied, 156 meter high building and 18-storied side ones with 452 apartments. The side buildings form a harmonic connection with the surrounding structures. The first floor is occupied by numerous food stores ( the Gastronom store was the largest one in Moscow when the building was completed) and the Plamya movie theater.


A method of construction work organization essentially different from those used when constructing previous high-rises was applied in this instance. First, a metallic skeleton as big as the building's height was constructed and after that the rest was done. The Ministry building is distinguished by the rich interior coating made of natural marble and granite. The coating also has wooden panels of oak and Karelian birch.


The Leningradskaya hotel is a 26-storied building (its height is 136 meters) that structurally contains some features of the Russian architecture of the 18th century. In contrast with primarily classical forms of other high-rises, the stylistics of the hotel reminds of the 'Narishkin style' structures. This is manifested most visibly by its interiors. In the front vestibule the attention is drawn to Moscow's Emblem of St.Georgiy, the Victorious, the gorgeous decorative grate copying the ornament of the Kremlin's 'golden grate' and chandeliers reminiscent of church-chandeliers. This use of images and forms of the national architecture is typical for the postwar years imbued with the pathos of the people's victory.


The 24-storied administrative and residential edifice near Krasnie Vorota (Red Gates) square consists of the central building (the Ministry of transport engineering) crowned with the star-topped spire and two apartment ones with a different number of storeys. Before there was a house on this site. That is where Mikhail Lermontov was born. There is poet's monument beside the building. The vestibule of the Krasnie Vorota subway station is in the left wing that opens on Kalantchevskaya street. The edifice is located in the highest place of the Sadovoe beltway. It has a impressive tiered structure. Its architectural style gravitates towards the Russian and Ukrainian baroque.


The 32-storied building on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment near the junction of the Moscow River and the Yauza River totally dominates the area. The building is a starting point for all streets leading down to the river and it rivals the Kremlin. The building's height is 176 meters and its lower storeys forming the extensive socle are coated with splintered and polished red granite. The building's heavy decor consists of statues and cogged towers.

Like many other high-rise structures in Moscow the building on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment is used for watching weather. The wind's direction and speed are determined here.

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