Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg wins in 20th year of tall-building accolades, marking a first for Russia.

by Lee Freeland

The Emporis Skyscraper Award's most recent winner is a project in Russia, marking the first win for the country. The 1,516-ft-tall Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg, designed by GORPROJECT and RMJM, is the tallest building in both Russia and Europe and the 14th-tallest building in the world. It comprises 87 stories above ground and three below ground.

Lakhta Center

Emporis Skyscraper Award 2019 Lakhta Center

1b. Lakhta Center_(c)GORPROJECT: Lakhta Center is designated for 5,000 employees and visitors (100-140 people per floor); photo © GORPROJECT.

Emporis, a Germany-based international database of information about building and construction projects, has been presenting the Emporis Skyscraper Award since 2000. Towers at least 100 m tall completed during the previous calendar year are selected by a jury of experts. This year, an international jury of experts chose the winner and nine runners-up from more than 700 skyscrapers completed in 2019 with a minimum height of 100 m.

Emporis explained:

"When choosing the Lakhta Center as its favorite, the jury was impressed by the skyscraper's unusual form. The exterior structure of the building consists of five wings that rotate almost 90°. The twist creates a dynamic impression, giving the building the shape of a blazing flame, which resembles the logo of Gazprom, the natural gas producer that has taken up its new headquarters inside the building. The skyscraper was also able to score points with the jury due to its use of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient technologies. As the northernmost supertall skyscraper in the world, the building is exposed to extreme temperatures. A double-skin façade prevents unnecessary heat loss and makes it extraordinarily energy efficient. In addition, thanks to the innovative use of infrared radiators, excess heat is not lost, but fed back into the system."

The first supertall in St. Petersburg, Lakhta Center has received Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and is one of the five most environmentally friendly skyscrapers in the world, according to


The building has 40 elevators and four escalators, all provided by Schindler. The company said that its high-speed elevators move people to the top in less than 1 min. Schindler's PORT Technology was installed to streamline its "personalized building transit experience." According to the Lakhta Center website, the vertical-transportation (VT) strategy is developed so that the waiting time in rush hour does not exceed 30 s., and for some groups (pre-pandemic), the waiting time is only 15 s. Traffic expectations were calculated very carefully with the help of ELEVATE Elevator Traffic Analysis and Simulation Software. An 80% lift load factor and a 12% lifting capacity (the number of people who can be transported within 5 min at peak hours) are used. Therefore, even in peak hours, the elevators can transport all occupants within 1 hr.

There are double-deck passenger high-speed and service lifts, in addition to single-deck lifts, the Lakhta Center website continued. Their speed is 2.5-8.3 m/s, and their capacity is 400-2000 kg. Two sky lobbies are at floors 29-30 and 53-54 creating lower, medium and upper lift groups. Some lifts can stop at each floor, and there are higher-speed lifts that serve only the observation deck and observation restaurant on the top floor.

Emporis Skyscraper Award 2019 table US 19

Other Winners

2b. Leeza_-®Hufton+Crow: Leeza SOHO in Beijing won second place; photo © Hufton+Crow.

Other winners exemplified the global nature of the event. Leeza SOHO in Beijing won second place. One of the last projects by the late Zaha Hadid, its 636-ft-tall atrium was particularly lauded by the jury. The component "runs through the entire building from top to bottom and elegantly divides it into two halves," Emporis added. The tallest in the world, the atrium's continuous glazing floods the building "with light and allows an exceptional view into the building, as well as to the busy streets of Beijing." Hitachi Elevator provided the VT equipment, including 16 4-6 m/s double-cab elevators.

Emporis Skyscraper Award 2019 35HY Courtesy SOM (c) Dave-Burk

3d. 35HY_Courtesy SOM (c) Dave Burk: Taking third place, 35 Hudson Yards was the highest-placed of the three U.S. winners; photo © Dave Burk, courtesy of SOM.

Manhattan, New York's 35 Hudson Yards took third place. The tallest residential building of the development, it includes 143 apartments and a luxury hotel across 11 of its floors. "The 72-story building stood out to the jury particularly due to the use and mix of special building materials," Emporis explained. "The façade is made of Bavarian limestone and glass, adding to its unique appearance with several setbacks over its full height of 1,010 ft." Otis is the elevator contractor (ELEVATOR WORLD, December 2019). National Elevator Cab & Door Corp. and Jaros, Baum & Bolles also conducted VT component supplying and engineering, respectively.

"This year’s results show again that Europe is quite capable of keeping up with the competition from Asia and North America,"  Emporis concluded. "After already claiming second and third place in the previous year, this year, a European skyscraper was finally able to win the sought-after award again, the first time since 2013."