Almaty, Kazakhstan


Mixed Use; Office, Hotel, Residential, and Retail


80,000 square meters



Key Staff

Eric McNevin, Jose Herrasti, Ben Toam, Kyoung Kim, Tom Raymont, Naoko Miyano

Key Consultants

Arup - Structural
Guy Nordenson - Structural


AIA/NEXT LA, Citation, Republic Square, 2007

Republic Square is the ceremonial and organizational center of Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. The competition site is located at the north-west of the square, which is surrounded by major public, institutional, and administrative buildings. Nominally, the project is a mix of a number of commercial uses: Luxury hotel and convention facilities, condominium housing, office space, retail and public space, and parking. But by virtue of its enormous scale and prominent location, the project will become the constructed symbol of this newly affluent Central Asian nation.

The nature of that built symbol is the essence of the competition assignment.

Almaty’s climate is one of extremes of heat and cold. The conceptual solution connects Republic Square with a “Great Hall” to the east, which enlarges the city’s capacity to accommodate large public functions in inclement weather, or simply as an indoor alternative to the square.

The program requires a grouping of discrete high rise structures, each defined by a different housing, office, hotel, or retail program. The design response is a single building which originates at the street as the Great Hall, ascends as five separate components which merge to become a single structure. The vertical sequence: One building becomes five buildings become one building again.

Historically, Almaty is area of sometimes violent seismic activity. The Great Hall is conceived as a sequence of arches, connected as a horizontal “spring,” positioned to absorb lateral ground forces. To unify the action of the spring, a cable net ties the spring components together. Four seasonal braced “light” net towers, roughly square in plan, each a different size, are supported on the “net-springs.” The braced nets funnel seasonally varying patterns of sunlight through the tower interiors to the Great Hall below.

The topography rises gradually to the south to the site of the National Art Museum. Four horizontal condominium housing blocks extend south from the Great Hall across the rising landscape. On the north side public seating on a terraced earth mound abuts the Great Hall. Both the housing blocks and the earth-mound provide requisite lateral seismic resistance in the north-south direction.

The position of the primary structure maximizes twin spectacular views, one south to the colossalTian Shan mountain range, the other north to the vast and austere Central Asian Plateau.