Alas. When I was there, I circled around for a long time, took off almost all the details of the building, admired, but I failed to get into the office of a large IT company. So far it hasn’t succeeded. The main thing is the goal, you need to sign up for a tour in advance and realize your plans with full confidence. In the meantime, I’ll show you a few photo sketches from this intersection and the details of the building itself.
Let’s take a quick look at the history of one of the most beautiful and recognizable buildings located on Nevsky Prospekt. There are many more architectural masterpieces on Nevsky Prospekt, we will definitely talk about them. The history of this building began in the late 1730s, when the opera house was located here, which burned down in a fire in 1749. Later, in 1770, a stone mansion was built on this site for the confessor of Catherine II, Archpriest Ivan Panfilov.
In the 18th century, the building underwent numerous changes on behalf of the new owner, who was Carl Imsen. Of the biggest rebuilds, this added another floor. The new owner leased some of the premises of the building to a music shop, the editorial office of the Birzhevye Novosti newspaper, a bookstore and a photo studio of Sergei Levitsky, who is the first professional photographer in Russia, as well as a court photographer. The other buildings were apartments.
The 19th century is coming. The American company Singer, the one that manufactures sewing machines, chooses this building in the very center of the city for its office, and in 1902 the plot of land under this building was purchased. The former building was demolished, permission was obtained from the emperor himself. We add that the Singer company has long and successfully been represented in Russia, had on its territory many stores (more than 3000) in different cities and even a large factory in Podolsk.
The architect of the new building was Pavel Syuzor. The project that he proposed did not comply with the rules and regulations established for the architecture of St. Petersburg. Namely, that all the buildings of the city center could not be higher than the Winter Palace. Therefore, it was decided to build a new building with 6 floors, and build a decorative dome on top. And all decorative rules and regulations did not apply. Here is such a trick. Although the inhabitants of the city were against the demolition of the old building, the new, undoubtedly chic building delighted everyone. The Art Nouveau style was unusual and was a fresh trend for the classical architecture of St. Petersburg.
And now a little about architecture .
Each element of the building has its own meaning. For example, Valkyries, made of bronze, which adorn the corner of the building. One of the girls is holding a harpoon, a symbol of shipbuilding and industry. Well, another lady has a spindle and a sewing machine, a symbol of light industry.
Another unique thing about this building is that for the first time in Russia, steel frames were used during construction, and these are panoramic windows and large shop windows. There are built-in pipes in the walls that allow water to be drained from the roofs from melting snow. Let’s add unique room ventilation systems, elevators, steam heating and much more, which was not only new, but also opened the way for many technologies that were previously used little or not at all in Russia.
At the base of the dome is an eagle flapping two huge wings. Initially, it should not be here, and when during the First World War the name «Singer» became associated with Germany, it was decided to place this bird as a symbol of America. In 1917, the eagle disappeared in an unknown direction and later, according to archival data, it was restored.
On the dome, the girls hold a glass ball, or a globe.
In 1922, the Singer company left Russia (there is something familiar about this), and the building was nationalized. A few years earlier, a large bookstore had opened here. And now in this building they still sell books and delight readers with novelties of book publishing. Speaking of publishers. Whatever was located in this building! And «Young Guard», and «Enlightenment», and «Soviet Writer», «World», «Fiction», «Art» and many, many others. It was just a publishing center.
Already in recent years, after 1999, the building was restored, the foundation was replaced, reinforced concrete floors, eroded structures, architectural work was carried out to restore the stucco moldings of the building, murals and other things. We hope to see it all with our own eyes. Work continued until 2009. And since 2010, the upper floors of the building have been occupied by the VKontakte company.
You can see this building on video almost at the very beginning of our video filmed in St. Petersburg:
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