Gazprom’s new HQ will be tallest skyscraper in Europe


November 7, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

– Friedemann Kohler, in, translated from German by Tom Winter –

Construction site of the Lakhta Center, which will be Gazprom’s headquarters. 

First skyscraper of St. Petersburg:

An ambitious building project is currently underway in the Russian metropolis – with the help of German engineering.

ST. PETERSBURG. The Lachta Center is to become the new landmark of St. Petersburg. At 462 meters, Europe’s tallest skyscraper will tower above the historic center of Russia’s northern metropolis. Gazprom, the largest gas company in the world, shows its power with this new headquarters. In President Vladimir Putin’s home town there arises a symbol of a new Russia, as he likes to see it: cool and bold.

In the spring of 2015, the foundation was poured north of the center in the Lachta district on the Gulf of Finland. A month ago in October, the building, at 374 meters, overtook the previous European record holder, the Federatsia Tower in Moscow. For comparison, there is Germany’s tallest skyscraper, the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, 300 meters high including the top.

The Lachta Center can already be seen from afar – from the Baltic Sea as well as from the city. As a slim, pentagonal silver needle, it screws into the sky. The design was created by the British star architect Tony Kettle, planned by the Moscow office Gorproekt.

How a skyscraper looks like depends mainly on the façade, and in the case of this Russian prestige object, the facade is created by the German specialist company Josef Gartner from Gundelfingen in Bavaria. “This is an order that has shaped us a lot in the last three years,” says Managing Director Jürgen Wax. Gartner belongs to the Italian construction company Permasteelisa, works worldwide, and has also glazed the new headquarters of the Apple technology group in Cupertino, California. 

The order in St. Petersburg brings about 200 million US dollars, says Wax. That’s a tenth of the total cost that a Gazprom subsidiary has to shoulder as a builder. The skyscraper’s glazing, exterior and interior of the skyscraper measures 100,000 square meters, the size of 14 football pitches. To do this, Gartner made 16,600 individual elements from aluminum, steel and cold-bent glass.

The path of the window components begins in an assembly hall in Levashovo, a suburb of St. Petersburg. Workers screw the frames delivered from Gundelfingen together around the glass panes. The typical element: a 4.2 by 2.7 meter parallelogram, 700 kilograms. But because the tower does not have any two floors alike, a separate measure had to be calculated for almost every part. Many of the fitters used to work in Petersburg car factories, says Andreas Bachmann, Russia’s director of Gartner. The facade order came in reverse to the Russian economic crisis, as the carmakers dismissed staff.

Still gaps to close
At the tower, the façade builders work on many floors at the same time. The executive offices are already recognizable on the tenth floor. The Gazprom boss Alexei Miller and his colleagues should be first to move in. 

“We started glazing in two places from the bottom and from the middle,” says project manager Ralph Damköhler. Currently, the gaps must be closed. Workers in colorful coveralls, secured like climbers, move the facade parts into place. Only occasionally do the gray autumn clouds provide a view into the depths – and from above, the parks or the football stadium Zenit-Arena look like tiny model buildings.

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