"Russian architecture is in a transitional state" says Yury Grigoryan

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The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts by Meganom

"Russian architecture is in a transitional state" says architect Yury Grigoryan

Russia's architects have become more interested in creating public spaces than spectacular buildings, according to Moscow-based architect Yury Grigoryan, who says the country's architecture has reached a tipping point.

Grigoryan said that rather than catering to developers, the country's emerging architects are focussed on designing public buildings, open spaces and streets in Russian cities.

Yury Grigoryan
Yury Grigoryan spoke to Dezeen after his Moscow-based firm Meganom was tapped to design its first US project

"What we see in Russian architecture is a transitional state," the architect told Dezeen, shortly after his firm Meganom unveiled its design a super skinny tower for New York.

"The new generation gives more value to city life, not to the architectural objects," he added. "As a response, architects take the side of the city and re-define their agenda."

Meganom is currently working on a number of public projects in Moscow, including an extension to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Grigoryan believes that Russia's time as part of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1991, when giant buildings and vast monuments were erected across the region, was an "interruption" in the country's architectural development. But following the socialist state's dissolution, he thinks that progress has returned, and that the country's architects are forging a style with a new crop of large-scale public projects.

"Russia is only developing, it's like 25 years of a new era of Russian architecture," Grigoryan said. "We are on the edge of this the new tradition in Russia."

"In this system, every new building becomes the pilot project of 'new' architecture. It has the ability to change and catalyse the process of transformation of urban life and the context."

It has also teamed up with Moscow-based firm Nowadays on the renovation of the Kremlin Museum, which will include elevated exhibition spaces and a public ground floor space. Rendering is by Meganom and Nowadays

Grigoryan's firm Meganom – which he runs with llya Kuleshov, Elena Uglovskaya and Artem Staborovsky – is among the contemporary studios currently working on a series of projects to transform historic buildings in Moscow into publicly accessible spaces.

Among its biggest commissions is the extension to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts – a museum of European art completed in 1912 – and the renovation of the Kremlin Museum, which was built in the 15th century.

The firm has also designed a masterplan for Gorky Park – a central park in the city designed by famous Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov that opened in 1928.

In addition to public buildings, the practice has also overseen the redesign of the masterplan for the city's Gorky Park

Grigoryan admitted that these projects have been difficult to work on because there is little precedent in the country.

"The challenge of the future is the challenge of finding a new, more profound artistic language in contemporary architecture, which does not limit itself to the aim of creating unique objects, but rather engages in finding new fragments of urban space and promotes a dialogue between them," he said.

262 Fifth Avenue by Meganom
Outside Russia, Meganom is currently working on the skinny supertall 262 Fifth Avenue skyscraper proposed for Midtown Manhattan

Meganom is also working beyond its home borders. Its first project in the US, the proposed 262 Fifth Avenue for New York, is set be the tallest building in the country designed by a Russian architecture firm.

The skyscraper is slated to rise in the Nomad district near Madison Square Park and is undergoing the final phases to receiving planning approval from New York City's Department of Buildings.

Renderings are by Meganom, unless stated otherwise.