Diamond and Schmitt Architects to Design New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia

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Canadian firm chosen from among five international and Russian competitors. Mariinsky's General Director Valery Gergiev hails Diamond's 'superb work' on Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, home of the Canadian Opera Company. Construction to begin immediately on Russia's first new opera house since the Czars.

Russia's world-renowned conductor Valery Gergiev confirmed Tueday that Diamond and Schmitt Architects of Toronto has been selected to design the new Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, which will add 2,000 seats to the growing Mariinsky complex. The existing Mariinsky Theatre, opened in 1860, has been home to premieres and residencies by composers such as Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovitch, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

The New Mariinsky Theatre is funded entirely by the Russian Government, and administered by the Ministry of Culture, which hosted the design competition for architects earlier this year. Diamond and Schmitt will be working closely with the St. Petersburg architects KB ViPS.
The budget for the new Theatre is €295,000,000, with a projected completion date of 2011. The New Mariinsky will complement both the existing Mariinsky Theatre located in Teatralnaya Square directly across the canal from the site of the new theatre, as well as the new Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, a 1,200 seat facility two blocks west which opened in 2007.

Said Valery Gergiev: "This is an important day for the Mariinsky which will contribute to the miracle of architecture that is St. Petersburg."

"When the late Richard Bradshaw toured me through his new Four Seasons Centre in Toronto in 2007, I was struck by its beauty, its practicality and friendliness with neighbouring buildings, its superb acoustics and of course, its budget."

"Clearly, the architect knew what was needed and delivered on all those large challenges. Today, the Four Seasons is one of the finest opera houses in the world, and we are delighted to be working with Jack Diamond and Gary McCluskie in creating what I'm confident will be Europe's greatest new opera house."

Said Jack Diamond: "This commission sends a strong signal that Canadian architects can work on the most demanding projects on the world stage. We are enormously grateful for the confidence the Russian Federation has put in our ability to produce a landmark for the new Russia and for the performing arts everywhere."

In addition to his conducting positions as the Musical Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, Valery Gergiev is the General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, which includes the world-renowned companies, the Mariinsky Ballet, the Mariinsky Opera and the Mariinsky Orchestra. Until recently, these organizations were known as the Kirov Ballet, Kirov Opera and Kirov Orchestra. However, just as St. Petersburg reverted to its original name after decades of being called Leningrad, so too are these seminal artistic companies now using their centuries old names.

Diamond and Schmitt Architects is a 150-person firm with an international practice. In addition to the 2,000-seat Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, its most recent achievements include the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem and Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C. All three of these projects were chosen by Architectural Record and Business Week as among the best buildings in the world in the years 2007, 2004 and 2008 respectively. The award is given for 'high design' buildings that advance the mission of their clients and users.

Recent Diamond and Schmitt projects include concert halls for Denver, Colorado and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra; the Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation at The Banff Centre; and research and academic buildings for many universities. These include the Universities of Michigan, Toronto, British Columbia, McGill, Western Ontario, Windsor, Ottawa, Drexel, York, Ryerson, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The full Diamond and Schmitt Architects portfolio is at: http://www.dsai.ca

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