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Gazprom invites world's top architects to design office park

OAO Gazprom, Russia's natural-gas monopoly, is inviting six leading global architectural firms to present designs for Gazprom City, a multibillion-dollar real estate development in St. Petersburg. Gazprom executives and St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko met with the firms on Wednesday, the company's oil branch, OAO Gazprom Neft, said in an e-mail last night. The firms are Switzerland's Herzog & de Meuron, Ateliers Jean Novel of France, RMJM of Britain, the Netherlands' Office for Metropolitan Architects and the studios of Daniel Libeskind and Massimiliano Fuksas. The project, to which the St. Petersburg government has already pledged 60 billion rubles ($2.2 billion), will help raise the profile of President Vladimir Putin's hometown. A number of state-run companies, including Gazprom Neft, OAO Vneshtorgbank and OAO Transnefteprodukt have decided to relocate to St. Petersburg in recent years. Gazprom, which sponsors the city's premier league soccer club, Zenit, is taking a lead role. Besides the Gazprom City project, the company plans to build a new stadium for its soccer team. Alexei Miller, the company's chief executive officer, also comes from St. Petersburg and worked together with Putin in the city's administration in the 1990s. The architects will present their drafts for the Gazprom City project at the end of October, Gazprom Neft, known as Sibneft before it was bought by Gazprom last year, said in the e-mail. In November, the designs will be presented at public hearings in which civic organizations will be invited to participate. The main building in the office park will be a high-rise business center, Gazprom Neft said. The company plans to have its new headquarters in the building. Other tenants are expected to include departments of the city government. A tentative completion date for the project is 2016. (Bloomberg)