ArchCouncil invited experts for consultations on modernist Library Restoration Project
The ArchCouncil of Moscow decided to postpone the reconstruction project of the burnt INION library to consult with experts on Soviet modernism, said Sergey Kuznetsov, the Chairman of the Council and Chief Architect of Moscow. In general, experts indicated the correct orientation of the project, proposed by the team of designers at OOO GIPROKON.
The library building, designed by architects Y.B. Belopolsky, E.P. Vulykh and L.V. Misozhnikov, was built in the mid-1970s. The building is a remarkable example of Soviet Modernism and has a number of iconic, recognizable elements, such as an entrance bridge over the pool, which was located above the cooling systems of air conditioning machines, which were later moved to the basement. The upper floor of the library was fully glazed: reading rooms formed constantly flowing and open public spaces with additional light in the form of 264 skylights. There were transparent partitions and low furniture.
Before the fire in 2015, the library was already in poor condition. The building was not equipped with fire alarm system, some elements were missing, a number of building structures fell into disrepair—the pedestrian bridge was closed, water isolation was damaged, air-conditioning systems were out of service, the pool had been without water since 1994.
The fire destroyed the larger part of the building. The structures that collapsed were dismantled later to save the remaining books. The whole main facade overlooking Nakhimovsky Prospekt, the inscription on the facade, staircase at the entrance, all interiors of the reading rooms, the main entrance and stairs leading to the upper floor were destroyed. The interior of the library did not survive. After the fire, water spilt in the building so it was disconnected from the power supply; as a result it was frozen in winter. The remaining building structures are in an emergency condition.
In 2015 and 2016, two independent inspections were carried out—both of them showed a progressive deterioration of the building constructions, as well as recommended disassembling the main frame consisting of precast reinforced concrete with the use of framework prestressed slabs.
The project by OOO GIPROKON envisages replacement of the framework with reinforced concrete. The building footprint fully corresponds to the historical one. Changes in the General plan are insignificant: demolition of the hangar, serving as temporary book storage, and displacement of the ventilation shaft to improve the appearance of the facade.
According to the project designers, their work is based on conceptual design materials of Y. Belopolsky and analogues, such as A. Aalto library in Vyborg. The missing elements of the building were made pursuant to the latest versions of the architect’s engineering design drawings.
The elevation marks of the building remain unchanged. The only difference in facade solutions is that under the new project the inside of the courtyard will be faced with natural stone, which was not implemented initially due to the lack of funds. The changes in the plan structure are based on the modern function of the library—which also includes RAS information and analytical center—modern technology and construction standards, for example, the number of illuminated areas or spaces occupied by technical facilities.
The reserved area is planned to be used owing to the development of the underground space under the courtyard, beyond the territory of the building footprint. Two underground floors can be constructed there to store books, engineering equipment and accommodate a data-center.
In addition to this, it is proposed to expand the central part of the building to three floors instead of two; at the same time the proportions and facade solutions will remain unchanged, thus providing additional space.
The functional layout of the building will be the same. On the top floor, there will be a single space of reading rooms, which are adjacent to the library stacks. The massing of the central staircase is to be restored. Above the axis of public spaces, the skylights will be reconstructed. Localization of new and more compact engineering systems on the roof creates additional space. However, 20 percent of the skylights will be replaced by lamps having the same diameter.
As a result, the project involves full restoration of the historic massing of the building with the total area extension of 14 thousand square meters, to accommodate modern systems of book storage, a data center and analytical and information center of the Federal Publicly Funded Institution of Science.
The only significant difference between the new project and the original one is the lack of water surface: due to particular aspects of federal funding, the pool restoration project may not be included in the proposal and shall constitute a separate project to restore the landscaping. This decision implies full restoration of the size and configuration of the pool, and after that a temporary improvement will be implemented at the pool’s bottom.
The members of the ArchCouncil unanimously supported the establishment of a Commission made up of experts on modernism architecture to provide reasonable evaluation of the restoration authenticity.
Also they unanimously supported the idea to restore the water reservoir—as one of the main elements of the architectural composition. The experts consider that financial issues related to the pool restoration and its subsequent exploitation can be solved together with the city.
«There are many options for stained glass designs, wall finishing, roof shape, placement of stairs. At the same time, we understand that the renovation project must meet modern standards, and if you just copy the old solutions, they will not pass expert review,» said Andrey Gnezdilov. «I would call this solution a sketch of the restoration project, which is made in the right direction. And I think this opportunity should be implemented».
«Our colleagues at GIPROKON consulted with experts, the Russian Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences, and we have a rather positive opinion about this project. In this case, the object does not have the status of a monument, but, of course, it is of great value, it was created by famous architects respected by everybody,» said Sergey Kuznetsov. «We look forward to its full reconstruction. It is important to understand that the project won’t become an exact copy, because copies are made by the same developers, using the same materials, construction methods that existed back then. The present project has aspects dictated by the modern time, technology, construction opportunities, and we would like to get a definite opinion of experts to estimate whether they are appropriate for the spirit and quality of this object.»
Sergey Kuznetsov added that the final opinion of the ArchCouncil will be announced after consultations with experts in the near future.