Evolution Tower : Moscow City's Spiral Architectural Landmark

Christopher McFadden

The Evolution Tower (aka City Palace Tower or Wedding Palace)  has arguably become Moscow City's new architectural landmark. The inspiration for the tower comes from Rodin's Kiss, St Basil's Cathedral or Tatlin's Tower. In any case, the Tower is certainly a work of beauty. The building's iconic spiral form from base to roof is meant to represent the ideas of progress and the future. Although as a piece of architecture its completion was a real triumph for its team, it is yet to win any awards.

This magnificent building has around 80,000 m2 of office space and has become, unsurprisingly, a prestigious centerpiece of the Moscow International Business Center project. Other than offices, its twisting floors include 36,000 m2 of shopping and entertainment spac as well as a covered parking area.

Philip Nikandrov, the chief architect, believes that the initial design of the Tower, revealed in 2004, set off a wave of imitators. It took 12 years to go from design to handover. Philip says:

Through the economic crisis and many subsequent design team iterations, the essential twisting form has endured. The appropriately named final product demonstrates the persistent value of a strong concept. The tower, against many odds, has definitively spiraled upward and taken its place in the city’s skyline.

Let's take a quick tour of this majestic building and its journey from inspiration to reality.

Evolution Tower : Moscow City's Spiral Architectural Landmark

Tatlin's Tower (Left), Rodin's The Kiss (Centre) and St. Basil's Cathedral (Right)
[Image Sources:(1),(2),(3)]

How does Evolution Tower rank?

Evolution Tower is a beautiful building but who cares about aesthetics. How does it rank in the world as a structure? Great question lets find out. According to The Skyscraper Center, Evolution Tower is the 360th tallest building in the world, the 15th tallest in Europe. 9th tallest in Russia as well as Moscow city. This impressive building stands at a total of 245.9 meters to its tip. The highest occupied point is at an impressive 220 meters above ground level. It cost $5,000,000,000 to build and actually has 20 elevators serving the occupants inside.

Evolution Tower's Design

The Tower, designed by Tony Kettle, in collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art Professor Karen Forbes, resembles two wrapping ribbons around one another. There is actually a ballroom on the top floor, nice touch.

Inspired by Rodin's The Kiss, Tatlin's Tower and St. Basil's Cathedral, the building's design reflects their sculptural forms with a noticeable twist across the floors. Intended to emulate two lovers, or even ribbons, frozen in a spiraling embrace the tower is a graceful construction. The designers felt that this design recognizes and celebrates the speed and energy of Moscovian urban life.

It is a real statement of innovation amid the many historical landmarks within the city, yet working in harmony with them, rather than creating a stark aesthetic contrast. Whilst it forms an important civic focus, it operates on a personal level as a public expression of a private vow. The building's sensuous form is integral to its design and addresses the quality in conceptual innovation combined with a high level of technological engineering.

The project's Chief Architect Philip Nikandrov says,

"From the onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral to the iconic Tatlin Tower concept, Russian architecture has long been obsessed with spirals. At the most basic level, the sculptural DNA-shaped twisting Evolution Tower symbolises the progress of humankind through its achievements in construction."

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride

As proud of the final building as the designer and contractors are, it seems critics weren't quite "as sweet" on the Tower.

Evolution Tower missed out in its nomination for "The Best Tall Building in Europe". This award is provided by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, or CTBUH. One of the jury said of the Tower, "The world has seen an increasing number of twisting towers in the last decade or so, but Evolution Tower takes the record for the most extreme twist." You can't argue with that.

The tower was also second place runner-up in the 2015 Emporis Skyscraper Awards. Although not a winner, it was recognized for its expressive design by the jury.

Sadly, the tower missed out again in 2016 when it was shortlisted but not successful during the MIPIM awards. Oh well, you're a winner to us Evolution Tower.

The Construction of Evolution Tower

Construction began in 2008 but it was first proposed in 2005 and  finally completed in 2015.

Project development was the responsibility of ZAO Snegiri Development in collaboration with KG-Techstroy. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing design and installation were awarded to Renaissance Construction Company. Renaissance also built the main structure as well.

The Tower's construction combines state-of-art engineering techniques and features Russian Architectural styles. The Tower, well towers, for 55 floors, with 3 floors below ground, constantly twists up its entire height by 3 degrees per floor around the central core. Evolution Tower's final form is an elegant clockwise rotation from base to top of around 135 degrees.

Evolution Tower is undoubtedly a beautiful structure. It's a simulation of an organic twisting silhouette that stands out against the skyline of Moscow's city center. The Tower's development has delivered a significant open public space on the landscaped roof of the development's shopping mall.

The building is a great mix of design and engineering with a large underground car park, direct link metro station and pedestrian bridge. The building's very bold shape is bound to become a beloved landmark in the city. Even before its completion, it appeared in commercials, posters and magazines, and is set to become a new icon for the Modern Moscow. It certainly symbolizes business ambitions and fast development.

To some, the Tower has become a monument to the courage of its developer and investors who placed a lot of trust in the architects, engineers and contractors. In any case, the Tower is a real achievement for the people who worked tirelessly to make it happen. Evolution Tower is a real credit to their team work, hard work, determination and imagination.

Sources: RenconsSkyscraperCenter, Snegiri

[Featured image adapted from CTBUH]

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