Moscow chief architect and Co: who designs Russia's major buildings

Sergey Kuznetsov is the chief architect of Moscow since 2012. After he occupied this position, his company SPEECH received several state contracts for hundreds of millions of rubles, and also engaged in the design of the country's most important construction projects. Mikhail Shubin talks about the career and business of the capital’s chief architect.
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A year before the diploma defence at the Moscow Architectural Institute - in 2000, Kuznetsov founded the architectural bureau "SLK-Project", in three more years - the architectural bureau "S.P. Project". His career skyrocketed after Kuznetsov joined forces with the Russian-German architect Sergei Choban in 2006. Bureau "S.P. Project" merges with "Choban and Partners", and turns into "SPEECH Choban & Kuznetsov".

The future chief architect of Moscow would work in this bureau for six years. During this time, he would manage to design several residential and office-business complexes, work on a network of international five-star hotels Kempinski Plaza in Russia and the CIS, as well as the Museum of Architectural Graphics in Berlin.

In 2010, Kuznetsov together with Choban, Pavel Khoroshilov and Grigoriy Revzin at the Venice Biennale implemented the project "Factory Russia". At the end of the summer of 2012, they (although, without Khoroshilov) became co-authors and co-curators of the design of the i-city / i-land exposition of the Russian pavilion. It received a separate prize of the jury “special mention” - the first award at the architectural biennale in the history of Russia. In August 2012, Kuznetsov became the chief architect and first deputy chairman of the Committee on Architecture and Urban Planning in Moscow.


When Kuznetsov became the chief architect, he turned 35 years old. According to him, he received a post not due to to useful connections he had gained. Kuznetsov was simply found by a recruiting agency that was looking for a young but experienced person involved in international design. He agreed. One of the main reasons that Kuznetsov provides, was the opportunity to develop the architecture and "with this became a part of history." The order on the appointment of Kuznetsov was signed personally by the Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin.

"If I'm young and engaged in a creative profession, do I necessarily have to support Navalny? Creativity is creation, and Navalny only criticizes. It's easy to criticize. Only the one who does not do anything does not make mistakes. Once you start doing something, you immediately become the object of criticism. Anyone who is really creative, does not chat too much, and is busy working, it is clear that Sobyanin is an excellent mayor for Moscow," Kuznetsov told in the same interview for Admagazine in 2013.

The chief architect is responsible for the control of the architecture committee, which in its turn oversees the development of the city's territory and the formation of its architectural and artistic image. Kuznetsov says that the chief architect’s goal is not to manage other architects. The main thing that lies on his shoulders is quality control of everything that is projected in the city. He argues that the evaluation criteria are not subjective, but quite realistic and can be written down. At the same time, Kuznetsov does not intrude into questions of taste. In this he allegedly follows Sobyanin's position - not to impose any style.

One of Kuznetsov's main innovations is the return of the architectural council, an advisory body to the committee for architecture. Its main function is public coverage of decisions on the most important construction projects in Moscow. Kuznetsov himself became the chairman of this body.

Another important change is the introduction of international architectural competitions for key urban and metro projects. By 2017, thirty such contests were held.

"I am glad that thanks to the principled position of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, international competitions are becoming a practice for Moscow, and through them we choose really very strong projects that, if implemented, can be among the best in the world," Kuznetsov underlined.


In 2009, LLC AB "SPEECH" ("SPEECH Choban & Kuznetsov") was reorganized into LLC "Astral". Among the founders were still Choban and Kuznetsov. At the end of 2011, this company ceased to exist.

In 2009, Kuznetsov became a co-founder of another company - LLC SPEECH. It has become the successor of the SPEECH brand and is still working.

According to the extract of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Choban is not one of the founders of this company, but, as indicated on the official website, is the managing partner of the bureau. Kuznetsov, in his turn, ceased to occupy managerial positions in this company and withdrew from the partners shortly before his appointment as the chief architect of Moscow.

Even before Kuznetsov took up his post, the architectural bureau SPEECH began winning contests for the design and development of key Russian buildings. In 2008, Kuznetsov and Choban designed the Water Sports Palace in Kazan - the most important object of the Universiade in 2013.

In 2010, Kuznetsov's and Choban's offices were engaged in designing the main media center for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. For two years (2010-2012) SPEECH was engaged in the design of residential quarters for the Skolkovo Innovation Center. The authors of the project are all the same architects. In 2014, Kuznetsov becomes chairman of the town-planning council of the Skolkovo Foundation.

Despite the fact that formally Kuznetsov ceased to have any relation to SPEECH, he continued fruitful work with it. In 2013, Kuznetsov and Choban became the authors of the main information pavilion of the Zaryadie Park.

In the same year, it was this company that won the contest for the development of a new building of the Tretyakov Gallery. Voting took place secretly, at a closed meeting of the architectural council of Moscow. For the sake of justice, Kuznetsov is not listed among the authors of the project on the official website.

Then SPEECH won a tender for the general design of the "Object". The customer of the works was JSC UK Dynamo, owned by VTB Bank. The contract price was 326.6 million rubles. The VTB Arena, the central stadium of "Dinamo", probably became a mysterious object. This assumption can be made based on the cadastral number of the land for which the project was created. At this territory the reconstruction of the stadium takes place.

In 2015, CJSC "UK Dynamo"  has concluded one more state contract with SPEECH for the amount of 324.6 million rubles. In one estimate, it is indicated that the design is carried out for the reconstruction of the Dynamo stadium. Among the co-authors of VTB Arena were Kuznetsov and Choban.

In the spring of 2017 in Moscow, passion for renovation was in full swing. It is interesting that in August 2017 SPEECH became one of 20 companies that will develop a concept for the construction of experimental renovation sites.