A press conference and a press tour devoted to restoration of the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building
The State Hermitage continues to inform mass media representatives about the progress of restoration of the General Staff (Intarsia, LLC as the primary contractor). 27 September 2010 a press tour in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building took place where journalists were able to see the latest results of work.
Commissioning of the first construction phase is planned in December 2010. Presently, external services that lead to the building (external water pipeline, gas pipeline, sewage and water supply) have been installed and laid. About 900 people are involved simultaneously in works of restoring the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building. Fine finishing has been carried out (the building has been dried and made waterproof), then the building will be faced with granite and marbleized limestone. A new gas boiler has been put into operation, all the engineering systems supporting the museum (lifts, air conditionings) have been installed and commissioned.
All construction works have been carried out and completed, courtyards have been increased in area by three times and divided by their functional features (a cloak room on the first floor, then a parade entrance to a parade staircase). Wooden window shutters have been installed.
By the project of the architect N. Yavein (Studio 44) lanterns, repeating Carlo Rossi’s idea but at a greater scale, have been installed. Uniqueness of this design is in its ability to increase the volume significantly and ensure natural illumination for paintings. Modern designs are made of thin-walled concrete which has not been used anywhere and was made specially for this project. All courtyards-transitions have light voluminous structures that allow placing large-sized objects.
The fourth building has been added with glass passageways with glass coating that connect Bolshaya Morskaya street with the Moyka’s embankment at the third and fourth levels of the building. A balcony with a transparent floor has been built along the building’s perimeter in the third building; two lifts have been installed in the fourth building. In some rooms historical painting detected in the course of washing out the plaster and performed by artists-restorers of Intarsia, LLC has been recreated. In the exposition hall on the third floor walls have been finished with 6-layer panels which allow their recoloring for different exhibition projects. On the fourth floor there is a gallery of two-storey lanterns made of reinforced concrete.
In the course of restoration works as a result of washing out facades internal courtyards reappear in their historical color, light grey, as it was in 1837 when commissioning the facility (during the Soviet times facades were yellow). Internal climate control services have been installed which is an important condition when exhibiting works of art. Internal courtyards, previously unused or intended for “black” passageways, have been turned to parade courtyards interconnected by parade gates of 15 meters high (a height equivalent to three or four-storey buildings). The gates will be faced by oak veneer; special cardan joints that enable opening the gates are manufactured at the Kirov plant; the gates mechanism will be tested and commissioned.
For the first construction phase 95% of the project’s financing have been implemented. Presently, preparatory steps for the second construction phase are underway, including geological engineering surveys; technical solutions are being adjusted to the actual condition of the building’s elements and structures; the procedure of monitoring the building’s structures is being negotiated. By 15 October 2010 a contract of extending works of the second construction phase will be signed with Intarsia, LLC, with the performance period of 25 months upon signing the contract. In 2012 on the threshold of the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage, which is to be celebrated in 2014, all the works must be completed.
The General Staff is one of Carlo Rossi’s outstanding masterpieces built in 1820s-1830s. Until the February Revolution it housed higher state institutions of the Russian Empire. In particular, in its Eastern Wing – the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, etc. After 1917 the building was occupied by various institutions and organization.
In 1988 the Eastern Wing of the General Staff was assigned to the State Hermitage and in 1999 first expositions were opened in its halls.
In 1999 M. Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage, presented the Greater Hermitage program in Moscow, of which one of the most important parts is the restoration of the Eastern Wing of the General Staff.
In 2000-2003 cosmetic repair of parade interiors of the building’s second and third floors of the Palace Square and facades of the Palace Square and the Moyka’s embankment and Pevchesky alley was done.
In 2001 on the night of January 1st a sculpture group on the General Staff Arch was put on fire which was caused by a petard fired during mass celebrations at the Palace Square. In 2002 the Chariot of Glory was restored.
In 2002 the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development allocated a loan to the Russian Federation for the complex restoration of the building’s eastern wing and its adjusting to the museum complex. The same year St Petersburg’s Studio 44 won an international contest of selecting the primary designer. In 2004 Studio 44’s pre-project proposals were discussed and in 2007 the architectural project was completed.
In 2008 the consortium including Intarsia, LLC and Vozrozhdeniye, CJSC PA became winners of the contest of selecting the construction contractor.
10 July 2008 a four-party Agreement of implementing the project of restoring the eastern wing of the General Staff (the first phase) was signed between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, St Petersburg Foundation for Investment Construction Projects, the Consortium including Intarsia, LLC and Vozrozhdeniye, CJSC PA, and the State Hermitage. There started works of overhaul and restoration of the building (clearing basements with disassembling non-historical structures, disassembling wooden structures and replacing them by reinforced concrete ones; reinforcing foundations of the first phase).
12 November 2008 an exhibition showcasing the project’s architectural part was opened in the halls of the eastern wing of the General Staff.
18 February 2009 the World Bank’s supervisory commission visited the State Hermitage to oversee the restoration process of the first phase works that were to be completed by mid 2010. The World Bank’s representatives confirmed the first stage financing.
28 April 2009 a working group meeting chaired by A. Busygin, Deputy Minister of Culture of the RF, was held. The working group includes representatives of the State Hermitage, the Federal Service of Cultural Heritage Protection, the Committee for State Control, Usage and Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks, Intarsia, LLC, the Foundation for Investment Construction Projects, Studio 44 and Engineer-Consultant, and meets once a month. Participants of the meeting were informed of signing by A. Avdeev, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, and V. Matvienko, Governor of St Petersburg, of a plan of further works of the first phase of restoration and overhaul of the eastern wing of the General Staff building until 30 August 2010.
27 May 2009 a memorandum of further financing by the World Bank of the first stage of the first phase of restoring the Eastern Wing was signed. The Bank’s experts carried out checks within the framework of a planned visit of the World Bank’s mission in relation to completion on May 20th of works of the first stage of the project’s first phase. Having overseen the progress and organization of work according to the schedule, experts called it “to the utmost degree corresponding to the declared parameters among all the projects financed by the World Bank in St Petersburg”.
To reinforce the building’s foundation, Intarsia, LLC (Director General G. Smirnov, distinguished constructor of Russia) used 1,300 titanium and over 3,000 standard piles. 27 stoves will be restored in the building. The reconstruction area within the first construction phase is 32,500 sq.m.