After Changes, Controversial New Mariinsky Building Is Approved

Classic Arts News   After Changes, Controversial New Mariinsky Building Is Approved
 
St. Petersburg's city architecture committee approved changes to the design for a controversial addition to the Mariinsky Theatre last week, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Construction is scheduled to begin in October, and should be finished by 2009. The building's projected costs have already increased from $100 million to $244 million.

The original design by French architect Dominique Perrault was chosen in an international competition in 2003, but has been the subject of vigorous aesthetic debate ever since.

Changes to the disputed design include lowering the building 3 meters to fit better with the other buildings in the historical district, and abandoning Perrault's plans for a golden dome. The new version will feature a dome made of aluminum, glass, and bronze dome that will, according to the architect, "reflect the sky and...have the color of St. Petersburg's weather. The dome will serve to create a special halo around the old building. From a certain perspective, it looks like raisins in a muffin."

Although the golden dome was one the aspect of the design that sealed Perrault's victory, there were many objections to it from people who found it tasteless, too elaborate, and not in keeping with the historical neighborhood. Some critics, according to the Times called it "the golden potato."

The changes also include a series of openings across the new building to resemble the windows of the old theater, which is nearby. These are meant to address concerns that the addition did not feel connected to the original theater.

Perrault seemed philosophical about his controversial design. "In Paris, there are still people who hate the Eiffel Tower, although it has long been seen as the symbol of the city," he said.


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