Wednesday, September 16, 2015

St. Petersburg: one of the most beautiful cities in the world

St Isaacs Cathedral, a most impressive site, especially when it's across the street from your hotel.
For some reason, one sees the most incredible sunsets...this is what I saw as I arrived at my hotel around 7 in the evening (no photoshopping!)
Last week I spoke at a conference entitled “Cities and territories tomorrow: tools for positive change” in St. Petersburg Russia.The conference was organized under the umbrella of the Moscow Urban Forum in cooperation with KB Strelka and the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, with the support of Russian federal and regional governments.

The aim of the conference was to accumulate and disseminate information about important urban projects, share international strategic planning experience, and, along with local governments and experts, find solutions for improving the quality of life in Russian cities.

I was invited to participate on two panels: one looking at how best to encourage the private sector to restore heritage properties; and another which looked at preparing a Master Plan for the city of St. Petersburg.

Some of you are no doubt confused as to why I, of all people, would be invited to travel half way around the world to talk about these topics. You are right to be confused!  However, I got to know some of the conference organizers last year when I served as an international juror for the competition to design a new International Financial Centre in Moscow If you want to know why I was selected to take on this role, it's because I am lucky!

Nonetheless, I was able to spend a week in St. Petersburg, often referred to as "Venice of the North" with its UNESCO designated historic city centre I also travelled around the outskirts, which are not quite as beautiful, but interesting given the mix of old and new building types and streetscapes. Below, and in subsequent blog postings, are a few photos of some of the things I found most interesting.
A wonderful turn of the last century building on Nevsky Prospect, the city's main street
The Singer Sewing Machine Building, also on Nevsky Prospect
This unusual masonry structure is across the street from the magnificent Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
A portion of the Hermitage, perhaps the most impressive art gallery in the world
St. Petersburg does not have many Art Deco buildings, but this is one I sought out.
One of the best ways to view the city is from one of the many canals
Leaving the Hermitage complex
At night the city comes alive....most downtown buildings are floodlit like this!
My home away from home for six nights...across from St Isaac's Church

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