Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
‘Moscow Gaining Height’ Conference focused on information / cultural exchange

Moscow Gaining Height

Click here to view the picture gallery from this event....

The ‘Moscow Gaining Height’ conference is typical of ‘affiliate’ Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) conferences which are often held two or three times a year between CTBUH World Congresses. Whereas World Congresses are organized centrally by CTBUH, affiliate conferences are usually steered by a local organization, with an objective in parallel with the Council’s primary mission – to disseminate best practice information in the field of tall buildings globally. In these cases the CTBUH plays an advisory and promotion role; suggesting conference theme and speakers, advising on program and technical tours, and promoting the event amongst its members and networks.

Elena Shuvalova, CEO of the Moscow-based Lobby Agency and active CTBUH member, brought a party of Russian dignitaries and professionals to visit CTBUH headquarters at the Illinois Institute of Technology in October 2007. Following that visit, the same party attended the CTBUH 8th World Congress in Dubai in March 2008, and decided at that event that it would be very beneficial to hold a smaller-scale but similar event in Moscow, to bring in some of the world’s experts in the field of tall buildings to present to Russian colleagues, many of whom are planning or constructing the numerous tall buildings in Moscow and elsewhere. Thus, in Dubai in March 2008, the idea of the ‘Moscow Gaining Height’ conference was born.

Marianna M. Brodatch & Yury Tabunshchikov          Antony Wood
Marianna M. Brodatch (Vice President of AVOK, Professor of Moscow Architectural Institute) & Yury Tabunshchikov (President of AVOK)   Antony Wood (Executive Director, CTBUH)


The event itself took place in the prestigious setting of the Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel Moscow, from the 22nd – 24th October 2008, with approximately 120 delegates in attendance drawn from numerous disciplines (architects, engineers, planners, government officials etc). With KONE as the main sponsor, the event  opened with a welcome address by Mr. Yuri Granik of the design and research agency TSNIIEP Zhilisha, who had partnered the organization of the conference. The first session was chaired by CTBUH Country Representative for Russia Tom McCool of Turner Construction International, with keynote presentations given by Yury Tabunshchikov, President of AVOK (the Russian Association of Engineers for Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, Heat Supply and Building Thermal Physics) and Antony Wood (Executive Director of CTBUH). Mr. Tabunshchikov gave a presentation on the Boundaries of Engineering Opportunities in Russian Tall Buildings, whilst Mr. Wood delivered a presentation entitled ‘Tall Buildings Futures? Sustainability and Design in the context of Tall’. The latter presentation prompted numerous questions from the audience on issues of sustainability – a reoccurring theme throughout the conference.

Next up were Mr. Stanislav Nikolaev, Director of TSNIIEP Zhilisha, who explained the work of TSNIIEP to the audience, David Genc of De Stefano & Partners in the US who gave a fascinating insight on the Waldorf-Astoria project in Chicago, and Mrs. Galina Poplavskaya, Head of Construction at the Russian Association of Construction, who took us through some of the problems faced with high-rise construction in Russia.

The session after the morning break was chaired by CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood and began with an excellent presentation on the challenges of ‘Sustainable Technologies in Modern Megalopolis’ by Elizabeth Belenchia, Vice-President of FIABCI (the International Real Estate Federation). Elizabeth’s presentation really set the scene for how major cities are expanding and what challenges urban humanity faces in the future. She was followed by Brad Malmsten of Thornton Tomasetti who presented some of the Hybrid structural solutions his company has introduced to several high rise projects in Moscow; Alexey Chaikin, Deputy Director of the fascinating ‘New Ring of Moscow’ development which he explained to the audience; and Mikhail Markovsky, Principal of the ByeINIIS Research Institute in Belorussia, who portrayed some of the developments in Belarus and other parts of his country.

The session after lunch on the first day was one of the best sessions of the conference, chaired by Elizabeth Belenchia of FIABCI. Three inspiring presentations gave delegates a snapshot of high-rise work both within and outside Russia; starting with Tom McCool, Head of European Operations for Turner Construction International, who gave a passionate overview of the short-comings of tall buildings; Tim Johnson, design Partner of NBBJ, who showed the work of his practice across the world; and Philip Nikandrov of RMJM who, as project architect for the controversial ‘Gazprom Tower’ project in St. Petersburg, gave us valuable insight into the design of the project and the work that has been done to counter the negative publicity the project has received and better communicate its intent.


The final session of the first day was chaired by Elena Shuvalova of the Lobby Agency and focused on Tall Building Safety, with presentations by Konstantin Belousov of the Moscow-based Science and Research Institute for Fire-Fighting; Leo Razdovsky of LR Structural Engineering who gave an absorbing presentation on ‘The Structural Design of Tall Buildings against possible Terrorist Attacks’; Marsel Bikbau of the Moscow Institute of Materials and Effective Technologies; and Mikhail Dashevsky of Vibrosysmozashita who gave a presentation on ‘Protecting Tall Buildings from Transport Vibration’.

The first day continued late into the evening with the conference Gala Dinner which was held at the Esterkhazi restaurant on Maroseyka in Moscow. Overseas visitors were treated to traditional Russian food and hospitality in the intimate setting of the restaurant, with numerous toasts (and glasses of vodka!) from Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian colleagues!

The first session of Day 2 of the conference, chaired by Yuri Gravnik of TSNIIEP, was also one of the highlights of the three days. Georges Binder, Managing Director of the Belgium-based Buildings & Data gave a fascinating overview of past and current trends in tall buildings with his presentation ‘100 Years of High-Rise Construction: Evolution and Trends’. Georges was followed by Marcus Lee, Director of FLACQ architects in the UK and formerly of Richard Rogers & Partners architects. Marcus was the site architect for the seminal Lloyds of London project in the 1980’s and has since been involved in the upgrade and ‘future proofing’ of the project with his new company, FLACQ. In today’s world of increasingly precious embodied energies locked-up in existing buildings, his presentation on how to keep Lloyds relevant and operational into the future was particularly apt. Next up was Young Ju of Korea University and the Korean CTBUH, who presented a structural case-study of the diagrid of the Lotte Super Tower in Seoul, South Korea, and the session was closed by Mr. Anatoly Franivsky of the Ukrainian Council of Tall Buildings, who gave us an overview of the developments in Kiev and other areas.

The final presentation-based session of the conference took place after coffee on Day 2, chaired by Peter Anderson, Director at Knight Frank. The session had two themes; the marketing of tall buildings and vertical transport systems, and had interesting presentations from Johannes De Jong, Director of Products & Technology at KONE who spoke about ‘Advances in Elevator Technology’; Julia Nikulitcheva of Jones Lang LaSalle who spoke about ‘The Peculiarities of Planning Mixed-Use High Rise Complexes’; Richard Pulling, High Rise Operations Director at OTIS who spoke about elevatoring innovations within his company; and Miguel Angel Baeyens of Optimum World Properties who spoke about the high-rise development opportunities in Panama.

Georges Binder         Johannes de Jong
Georges Binder
(Managing Director, Buildings & Data)
  Johannes De Jong
(Director of Products & Technology, KONE)

The remaining day and a half of the conference was devoted to technical tours, aimed at giving delegates first-hand experience of some of the seminal projects built and under construction in Moscow. The Thursday afternoon was devoted to the ‘Moscow City’ urban-scale project and the Federation Towers in particular. Delegates were treated to a presentation in the Federation Towers by Mr. Ara Aramyan, Vice-President of the developer the Mirax Group, and were then guided to the top of the completed lower tower of the twin complex, getting good views of the taller tower under construction (approximately 75% complete) and views out over the city of Moscow. The grandeur of the completed tower’s lobby areas and high-level restaurant were particularly amazing.

The final day of the conference started with a visit to the headquarters of TSNIIEP, who had been instrumental in supporting the conference. TSNIIEP are basically an architectural design and engineering research institute who work closely with the government on developing codes for high-rise buildings, and have worked with numerous developers to deliver a number of high-rise projects throughout the city. They were especially instrumental in designing and developing the first high-rise buildings in the city after the 40-year hiatus following the first Stalinist skyscrapers, which were completed in the 1950’s. Head of TSNIIEP Mr. Stanislav Nikolaev received the visiting party and, together with colleagues, discussed the work of his institute.

Ara Aramyan       Federation Tower       TSNIIEP Visit
Presentation in the
Federation Towers by

Ara Aramyan,
Vice-President Mirax Group
  Federation Towers, view
looking up

  Presentation by Stanislav
Nikolaev (Director of TSNIIEP)
and Valery Ostretsov (Head of
Architecture, TSNIIEP)

In the afternoon delegates had a choice of technical tours, including the seminal Moscow State University Tower, completed in 1953 and standing 240 meters tall with 36 stories. The tallest of the seven towers built during the Stalin era in Moscow, the building was for a while the tallest building outside New York, and the tallest building in Europe till 1988, and it still stands proud as a truly massive complex buzzing with students and academics. Delegates were able to journey to the top of the tower, with great views out over Moscow, and also to see some of the original interiors, including the wooden-seated classrooms and lecture theatres.

Other delegates elected to visit the Triumph Palace Tower which, at 264 meters and 57 stories, is the tallest residential building in Europe. The building is often termed ‘the 8th tower’ as it is built in a similar style to the 7 previous Stalin-era skyscrapers, though it was clear to visiting delegates that the attention to detail and finishing was far inferior to these original skyscrapers. Still, delegates were treated to a thorough tour of the building, including the roof viewing platforms with fantastic views out over Moscow.

Moscow State University         Triumph Palace Rooftop - Georges Binder & Antony Wood
Moscow State University
  Georges Binder and Antony Wood at the Triumph Palace Tower rooftop viewing platform

The conference drew to a close following Friday's technical tours, and all delegates agreed it had been an informative and inspiring three days. The mixture of presentations and technical tours, overseas and local speakers across numerous disciplines, and the somewhat close gathering of 120 or so delegates had given the event a uniqueness and opportunity for networking which is sometimes missing at larger events, and from which all delegates had benefitted. Like many cities around the world, it is clear that Moscow and other parts of Russia are enthusiastically embracing tall buildings as an urban solution. And although the country’s immediate future in light of the current global economic slowdown is unclear, conference attendees witnessed convincing evidence that the thirst for knowledge and information-sharing between Russian-based and overseas colleagues is indeed strong. Hopefully what has started here with the information shared and contacts made at the ‘Moscow Gaining Height’ conference will continue long into the future and ultimately result in better, safer and more sustainable tall buildings worldwide.

Picture Gallery
Click an image below to enlarge. Photos courtesy of Antony Wood, Victoria Safontseva and Maxim Burov.

Speakers - Day 1, Wednesday October 22

Audience Marianna Brodatch and Yury Tabunshchikov Antony Wood Stanislav Nikolaev David Genc

  Marianna Brodatch
and Yury

  Antony Wood

  Stanislav Nikolaev

  David Genc
De Stefano & Partners

Elizabeth Belenchia   Michael Willford   Brad Malmsten   Alexey Chaikin   Thomas McCool
Elizabeth Belenchia

   Michael Willford

   Brad Malmsten
Thornton Tomesetti

   Alexey Chaikin

  Thomas McCool
Turner Construction International
Philip Nikandrov   Tim Johnson   Panel   Elena Shuvalova, Antony Wood & David Genc    
Philip Nikandrov

  Timothy Johnson

  Session 1 Panel

  Elena Shuvalova,
Antony Wood &
David Genc

Speakers - Day 2, Thursday October 23
Georges Binder   Marcus Lee   Young Ju   Anatoly Franivsky   Johannes de Jong
Georges Binder
Buildings & Data

  Marcus Lee

  Young Ju
Korea University

  Anatoly Franivsky
Ukrainian Council on
Tall Buildings
  Johannes de Jong

Julia Nikulitcheva   Richard Pulling   Miguel Angel Baeyens   Panel   Audience 2
Julia Nikulitcheva
Jones Lang LaSalle

  Richard Pulling

  Miguel Angel

Optimum World Properties
  Session 2 Panel


Technical Tour - Federation Towers
 Presentation at the Federation Tower    Presentation by Ara Aramyan, Vice President of Mirax Group    Federation Tower - View Looking Up    Federation Tower - Lobby    Federation Tower - Tunnel to Control Room
Presentation by Ara Aramyan, Mirax Group   Presentation by Ara Aramyan, Mirax Group   View looking up

  Tower lobby

  Tunnel to building control center

Federation Tower - Typical Floor   Federation Tower - Looking Down on the Lift Core   Federation Tower - View   Federation Tower - High Level Restaurant    
Typical floor

  Looking down on tower lift core   View across Moscow

  High-level restaurant


Technical Tour - Capital City Towers
Capital City Towers   Capital City Towers   Capital City Towers        
Capital City Towers   View looking up   View looking up        

Tour - TSNIIEP headquarters
Delegates at TSNIIEP Headquarters   Valery Ostretsov   Elizabeth Belenchia, Stanislav Nikolaev and Antony Wood   Delegates enjoy a toast    
Presentation by Stanislav Nikolaev (Director of TSNIIEP) and Valery Ostretsov (Head of Architecture, TSNIIEP)   Valery Ostretsov (Head of Architecture, TSNIIEP)

  Elizabeth Belenchia (FIABCI), Stanislav Nikolaev (TSNIIEP) and Antony Wood (CTBUH)

  Delegates enjoy a toast


Technical Tour - Moscow State University
Moscow State University   Moscow State University   Moscow State University Lobby   Moscow State University Lecture Theatre   Moscow State University Stalin Bust
Moscow State University   View looking up


  Lecture Theatre


Technical Tour - Triumph Palace Tower
Triumph Palace Tower   Triumph Palace Tower - Looking up   Triumph Palace Tower - Rooftop Terrace   Triumph Palace Tower - View   Triumph Palace Tower - Binder and Wood
Triumph Palace Tower

  View looking up

  Rooftop terrace

  View across Moscow

  Georges Binder and Antony Wood on the rooftop terrace

Cultural Tour - Kremlin
Kremlin   Kremlin_Great Kremlin Palace   Kremlin Ivan the Great Bell Tower   Kremlin Guards   Kremlin at Night

  Great Kremlin
  Ivan the Great Bell Tower   Kremlin guards

  Kremlin at night

Cultural Tour - Red Square & St Basil's Cathedral
Red Square     St Basil's Cathedral   St Basil's Cathedral    Red Square by night    St Basil's Cathedral by night
 Red Square

  St Basil's Cathedral

  St Basil's Cathedral

  Red Square by night

  St Basil's Cathedral by night

Cultural Tour - Stalinist Towers
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building   The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building