November 01, 2017

Travel Notes

After three years of construction, Moscow has finally opened Zaryadye Park to the public. Located just across the street from the Kremlin, the new park stretches along the Moscow River on the site of the ancient Zaryadye neighborhood, where the gigantic Soviet-built Rossiya Hotel once stood.

The Rossiya was shuttered in 2006 and slowly demolished, and the prime real estate stood empty for seven years. The architect chosen to convert the space into a park was Manhattan-based Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and the result is far more than just a stretch of grass with trees and benches. It is packed with high-tech structures, including an artificial ice labyrinth, a philharmonic hall concealed in a hill, and a simulator that flies viewers over Moscow’s best-known landmarks. The park itself is also a complicated affair, with various geobotanical zones featuring flora from Russia’s different regions – from the humid Caucasus mountains to the upper reaches of the northern tundra.

While the idea of a new public space in the city center appealed to Muscovites, many have been appalled by the project’s skyrocketing costs: over 14 billion rubles ($240 million). Subsequent to the highly-publicized opening, city hall said that visitors had already damaged plant life and some structures, and sources said the final budget could top $433 million when restoration and additional features, like a private luxury hotel, are added to the mix.

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