Theatre Square: A Structural Evolution

theatre-square

Theatre Square: A Structural Evolution

by Rachel Faith & Rachel Janis

When first faced with St. Petersburg’s Theater Square, one is at somewhat of a loss for words, partially from the majesty of the square’s two main buildings, the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music and the Mariinsky Theater, but also from the strange, cramped chaos in which they are located. Each building is surrounded on almost all sides by wide, busy streets, construction, canals, and haphazardly parked cars, punctuated occasionally by a monument or a row of trees. Ultimately, the main impression created by all of this is “They call this a square? Why?” Compared to some of Russia’s other squares, such as the Palace Square in St. Petersburg or the famous Red Square of Moscow, Theater Square looks more like a large intersection than a square. Even the Theater Square in front of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow presents a more open, pedestrian-friendly space which greater resembles the traditional idea of a public square than its counterpart in St. Petersburg. At this point in time, Theater Square no longer functions as a square in the traditional definition, but greater resembles a node as defined by Kevin Lynch. The “square” part of the location’s name is a carryover from its earlier days when it actually fit such a description. To better understand how the space went from square to node, one must look back to the very beginning of this space and watch how it grew and evolved over time .

Field of Mars, Summer Garden, and Periphery

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Field of Mars, Summer Garden, and Periphery

by Andrew Andell, Zachary Moore & Benjamin Oelberg

East of the Hermitage along the river Neva are two of St. Petersburg’s oldest and most well known public sites – the Field of Mars and the Summer Garden. Part of Czar Peter’s original plan for the city, they remain iconic and essential elements for any native. However, though they border one another, the Field of Mars and Summer Garden are aesthetically and functionally quite different. The region and its periphery contain a diverse set of designs, each a reflection of its period and each meant to serve some function. Indeed, the most common vein within this truly distinct region is the power reflected in their foundations, in the sense of wonder inspired by their designs. The Field of Mars and Summer Garden, as well as several notable buildings nearby, stand out as testaments to the czars who commissioned them. Even today, as the power of the monarchy in Russia has long faded, St. Petersburg continues to be overshadowed by those whose ambition built it. These sites remain expressions of power, both by the state and the public, over a constantly evolving city; though their significance and meaning have changed over time, they continue to stand as monuments of the prestigious Russian state.

Form Versus Function and the Two Faces of the Spit of Vasilievsky Island

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Form Versus Function and the Two Faces of the Spit of Vasilievsky Island

by Ryan Akens and Jake Stronko

The spit, or strelka, of Vasilievsky Island is the eastern tip of the island, situated in the center of St. Petersburg. The panorama view of the city meeting the Neva River is a popular tourist destination, as illustrated by the numerous buses that unload tourists daily from the cruise ships lining the English Embankment. From the tip of the island, one can see the unique silhouettes of the Admiralty, Winter Palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress, and the dome of St. Isaac’s. At night, the spit is lit up with numerous floodlights as crowds gather to watch the nightly raising of the bridges spanning the river…