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The Lakhta Center Tower: Now Europe’s Tallest Skyscraper

As of 2019, St. Petersburg now has the distinction of being the site of the tallest skyscraper in all of Europe. The Lakhta Center Tower, an 87-story headquarters for Russia’s Gazprom, is not only the tallest building in Europe but has become more expensive to construct than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This 1,516-foot tower is also the northernmost skyscraper in the world and boasts the fastest elevators in Russia.

Cost of Construction

This soaring skyscraper cost 1.77 billion dollars to construct with 3,000 workers involves in everything from design to construction. The construction involved created five wings and 89 non-repeating levels, which necessitated the used of 3D modeling and Building Information Modeling software.

According to Redshift, a publication by Autodesk, the Lakhta Center design was inspired by the spires and domes of St. Petersburg with Gorproject chief architect Philipp Nikandrov in charge of architectural design. Parametric modeling was used to optimize the panelization of the façade to increase the use of standard 118 square foot panels to reduce installation errors and minimize costs.

Large Problems During Construction

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The project description sums up some of the most substantial challenges associated with the project. One of the most complicated issues “related to the erection of the complex appeared to be the wind.

At elevations it is much stronger than the ground wind: the builders recorded wind blasts from 120 to 140 km/hour, which is the highest wind strength level according to the Beaufort scale.” The most complicated problem was developing an anti-icing system that required two series of trials in Canada and Russia.

The Pursuit of Ultimate Sustainability

As Gazprom is a global energy company, one of the priorities was to create a headquarters that met and exceeded LEED standards for sustainability. The criteria, including water savings, energy efficiency, and recycling, which would ultimately lead to earning Platinum certification.

Some of the ways this was done were through using infrared radiators instead of traditional heaters and channeling excess heat from equipment into the building for use. A pneumatic vacuum waste-disposal system and computerized LED lighting systems were also implemented.

Ensuring Safety and Structural Strength

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With a building so tall, ensuring that is structurally sound and safe is a huge endeavor. Gorproject CEO Sergey Lakhman, Ph.D., explains that 3D models were used to simulate potential scenarios. Composite steel-concrete columns with five times the strength of traditional columns were used that took up less floor space.

The foundation was created using 264 piles which were driven over 900 feet into the ground along with over 9,500 tons of metal reinforcement places in grids. Perimeter columns were added as stabilization to prevent disaster even at wind speeds of 85 miles an hour. There is also an advanced monitoring system consisting of more than 3,000 sensors installed within the building.

Everything about this building needs to be maintained in new ways which meant coming up with entirely new concepts to make things work. Lakhman noted, “When you undertake such an ambitious task that no one has ever solved before, you stop reflecting about your life being in vain. That’s why we in Gorproject try to create objects that can become part of life and make us really alive all the time.”