Asteros is creating unique engineering infrastructure at the Hermitage Museum

Sep 10, 2013

Last Friday in Saint Petersburg, the 14-meter doors of the atriums of the General Staff building of the State Hermitage Museum opened to journalists. As part of the reconstruction of the museum, the Asteros Group completed the next stage of this complex engineering infrastructure project. During three years of laborious work, the magnificent building on Palace Square was equipped with a state-of-the-art technological system that will breathe new life into the museum but at the same time will not affect the architecture and decoration of the historic site.

The General Staff building in Saint Petersburg is a masterpiece of the great architect Carlo Rossi. The majestic structure was built over a period of ten years from 1820 to 1830. In the era of Imperial Russia, the Ministry of the Interior and Finance was located in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, which became part of the State Hermitage Museum in 1993. Fifteen years later, in 2008, the exhibits of the General Staff building were closed for restoration and are due to be completed in time for the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum.

Now, the long-term and large-scale reconstruction of the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, which was carried out in two phases over 5 years, is practically complete. The Intarsia Group of companies acted as the general contractor for the project, which involved a full range of restoration and construction activities of the cultural and historic site following the design of Studio 44 architectural bureau. The Asteros Group, with its in-depth experience in restoring cultural sites such as the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre and the State Theatre of Nations in Moscow, was the contractor responsible for implementing a series of low-current engineering systems.

The project was unique in every sense of the word, from the historical significance of the cultural heritage site, to the scale of the construction, restoration, and repair work. Our task of installing a series of low-current engineering systems without affecting the finish and architectural decoration of the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building was extremely delicate work, requiring the precision of sappers. There was simply no room for error, noted Mikhail Gavrilov, Director of the Northwest branch of the Asteros Group.

Having commenced work in the beginning of 2011, professionals from Asteros gradually created the layout of the future engineering infrastructure of the General Staff building. The work was carried out in close cooperation with the project's general contractor and under the steadfast control of the authorities. Today, the range of technological solutions includes closed-circuit television and security alarm systems, radio communication systems for guarding the displays, approximately 240 video cameras, an integrated building management system, a structured cable network, automated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), fire-prevention systems and more.

The Asteros team designed and implemented 11 cutting-edge engineering systems in the General Staff building of the State Hermitage Museum, which has a museum area of 27,004 square meters and a total floor area of 60,473 square meters.

There were more than 30 contractors working on the site at the same time. Up to 1000 people were involved in certain stages of the project, with each of them completing their part of the work. The presence of red zones, such as ancient parquet flooring, imitation marble, a furnace from the 18th century, unique archways and ceilings, on the one hand, made it more complicated to complete the engineering work, but on the other hand, imbued those involved in the project with the unique sense of being a part of rebuilding a great monument of Russian architecture. Pinpoint accuracy is necessary for working on these types of projects, where solving any sort of standard task becomes an engineering research study. For example, even such a simple thing as the system of security sensors becomes an unconventional task if we're talking about windows that were created in the 19th century and you need to install the security device in such a way as not to damage the marble window jambs and window sills, recalled Andrey Gusev, Head of Business Development of the Northwest branch of the Asteros Group.

At present, the restoration work in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building of the Hermitage Museum is almost complete. Plans to finalize commissioning towards the end of the year are in place. The restored exhibition halls will first be presented to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the St. Petersburg Building Project Investment Fund and then handed over to the museum's management. All displays in the eastern wing of the General Staff building will be open for residents and guests of the northern capital in 2014, the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum.

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