The layout of St Petersburg University Buildings: Unauthorised re-modelling and reconstruction

In 2010-2011, each University building was inspected; until this point, they had not been thoroughly inspected.

In 1990-2010, each University building was partially reconstructed, without any official permission or approval. In most cases, structural frames were redesigned, thus reducing the capacity of the buildings. More information on the reconstruction and re-modelling of University premises can be found in the tables in the Appendix. Data suggests that the reconstructions were massive in nature. 

In most cases the restoration work from the 1990s-early 2000s was initiated and performed by people who were responsible for finance management and who acted under letters of attorney. In the context of educational institutions up to mid-2010, as the reader may recall, deans of faculties and directors of institutes and research centres were responsible for financial management. Others responsible for financial management included: in residence halls, the directors of VUNK and PUNK (after their merger the director of the merged Campus); in publishing house, it was the publishing house director. And so on.

It is significant that one building could be managed by several responsible persons. For example, the building at 5 Mendeleevskaya Line was financially managed by Deans of the Faculty of History, Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Geology, Faculty of Biology, and also the Director of the St Petersburg University Medical Centre, S.V. Petrov. Up to 2008, there was no record-keeping of the letters of attorney. Thus it is natural that the new Rector immediately issued an order to revoke “all previously issued letters of attorney”, since no one knew how many of them there were and to whom they had been issued. It is no surprise that nobody was responsible for monitoring their performance either.

Reference: The term “re-modelling” is defined in Article 25 of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation: “Re-modelling of domestic premises is defined as the following: changing the structure or form of a building, which requires amendments to the technical specifications of the buildings”. The term is also applied to non-domestic premises.

When re-modelling structural frames, the project must stipulate whether a re-modelling of the structural frame can be carried out without harming the building or its parts. If no, then such re-modelling can result in reduced capacity or complete destruction of the building.

Additionally, all reconstruction projects of buildings of cultural or historical significance - 70 of which are part of St Petersburg University - should be approved by the Committee for the state preservation of historical and cultural monuments (KGIOP). The work of KGIOP focuses on not permitting these monuments to be destroyed.

In order to carry out reconstruction, a design project needs to be approved by a number of authorities.  Unfortunately, until 2008 nobody had followed proper procedure.

According to Article 9.4 of the Administrative Violations Code, officials may be issued a fine of up to 30,000 roubles for not complying with the reconstruction requirements. This includes re-planning without official permission or approval. The University can also be issued a fine of up to 300,000 roubles on each occasion. There are thousands of such violations.