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Foster + Partners quits Pushkin Museum job

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Norman Foster has quit the £415m project to revamp and expand the Pushkin Museum in Moscow

The starchitect’s practice has also distanced itself from the ongoing job, demanding that its name was removed from the scheme which is now being ‘carried out by others’.

The AJ100 table-topper, which landed the commission to overhaul the 1913 centrepiece museum and ‘recycle’ several surrounding buildings including the philosophy institute more than six years ago, claimed it had made ‘numerous attempts’ to continue working with the institution.

Originally due to complete in 2012 in time for the museum’s centenary, the scheme has subsequently stalled. It is understood that a revised deadline of 2018 is also likely to be missed.

A spokesman for the company said: ‘Foster + Partners formally resigned from the Pushkin Museum project and stipulated that [its] name could not be used in conjunction with the project, as confirmed in a letter from Lord Foster to the Director of the Museum on 5 June 2013.

‘[The practice] took this action because the Museum, for the last three years, have not involved us in the development of the project, which was being carried out by others. This was despite numerous attempts by the practice to continue working with the Museum.’

Fosters’ statement comes as Moscow’s chief architect Sergei Kuznetsov issued what appears to be a belated ultimatum reportedly telling local press last week that Norman Foster needed to ‘prove his commitment by coming to the Russian capital within a month.’

According to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Kuznetsov said: ‘If Foster, for one reason or another, refuses to participate further in the work, then, most likely, a competition will be held to choose another team, possibly of Western architects.’

Last month the museum’s long-standing director Irina Antonova , understood to be a key figure in Foster’s appointment to the project, also left the Pushkin Museum after 52 years in the role.

Previous story (AJ 23.11.2007)

Foster’s dominance grows in Russia with new cultural quarter

Foster + Partners has revealed its proposals for a new cultural quarter for the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia. Part of a wider masterplan drawn up by Foster, the project will include the refurbishment of the museum, as well as the listed villas around the site, to create a new cultural quarter in the heart of Moscow.

Foster intends to reinstate the grand entrance of the 1912 museum, and the glass roof will be restored and considerably increased in true Foster style to provide year-round gallery spaces.

The scheme will also include the renovation of Stulov’s Lodging House, which will become a boutique hotel, while four new buildings will provide an exhibition building, a 600-seat concert hall, a library and a new administration building. Foster said: ‘It is a true masterplan in the sense that it is less about individual buildings and more about the coherence of the site in its entirety, with an emphasis on landscaping and public spaces. ‘It is also about enhancing connections – both above and below ground. Improvements to the historic buildings and better provisions for back-of-house facilities will make the Pushkin’s magnificent collections more accessible and part of a wider destination.’ 

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