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WORKING WITH THE RUSSIANS

When I first found out I was going to be working on a project in Russia I was ecstatic. I have always been fascinated by Russia; from the Romanovs, to the communists, to their present day history. They are hardy and poetic at the same time.

I had been to Russia twice before. The first time was during my first trip to Europe. I bought a cheap Aeroflot flight that went via Moscow. Because our flight was delayed we missed our connecting flight in Moscow; which meant they had to accommodate us for the night. I remember paying hard currency to this guy who took us on a tour of Moscow. I remember being in Red Square being in complete amazement. Little did I know that in twelves years I would be working as an architect on a project located in Moscow; including the building that was right in front of me on Red Sqaure. My next trip to Russia was in then years times and this involved the trans-Mongolian railway; starting in Beijing and finishing in Moscow. This was on route to Europe where another chapter of my life was about to unfold – which still involved Moscow – working for a practice called Mark Pinney Associates (MPA).

Whilst at MPA I ended up working on four projects in Moscow; one of these didn’t end up being built. Three of them were in the Bond Street equivalent of Moscow. The other was in the famous former Soviet department store in the historical Gum building located on Red Square. It was interesting dealing with the Russians. You have the old Russians who are still stuck in the Soviet times; whilst the new Russians are progressive and running with capitalism at one hundred miles an hour. The quality of their work was amazing; much to my surprise. We had design a metal stair that suspended from the ceiling. I was expecting a rustic version of the design to turn up; however, the workmanship was amazing. It was perfect. The Russians also treated so well. The dinners and lunches we were taken on were amazing. How I miss those times.

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