Thanks to donations from PJSC Gazprom, OOO Gazprom Komplektatsiya, OJSC Severgazprom, OJSC Svyazinvest, and other companies, a modern Public Legal Information/Library Centre will soon appear in the atrium of Building 7 on the 22nd Line of Vasilyevsky Island. The construction of this unique site of St Petersburg University has from the very start been financed exclusively through extra-budgetary funding.

The concept

The decision to renovate the building where law students study was first discussed at St Petersburg University in the early 2000s. This specialised library on the 22nd Line - part of the Maxim Gorky Research Library - holds one of the best collections of legal materials in the country. Here you can find many valuable holdings of books and journals, reference books, rare monographs — about 600,000 items altogether, as well as an electronic database of dissertations and other unique digital collections. A public centre accessible to University students from all programmes and disciplines, as well as to local lawyers, will help to use the information and library environment of St Petersburg University to its maximum potential.

As part of the project, a 3,000 square metre building is being constructed in the courtyard of Building 7; this building will make it possible to expand University facilities (the libraries as well as the lounge zones for holding learning sessions, seminars and conferences).

The project

Several new floor levels have been constructed in the courtyard of the building. These premises will house a library stack with a reading area, a cloakroom for 1,000 items, and a bookstore. They will also have a hall and open space with 100 seats for holding learning sessions, seminars, and conferences.

Most of the space will be given to the library for housing the public holdings as well as the Old and Rare Books Reading Rooms. Thus, the Centre will provide 200 additional seats for readers, 150 of them equipped with computers; this will increase the seating capacity of the library by 2.5 times. In addition, the Centre is going to provide workspace for researchers and experts.

The construction process

The design of the public centre, developed by a team headed by architect Andrey Maslennikov, won second prize at the Architectural Competition of the Union of Architects in 2005. In September 2008, the initial design was created and submitted for approval. At the same time, preliminary construction work was begun.

In 2008, however, construction was put on hold because new fire safety requirements were issued for historical buildings. It was thus necessary to develop project-specific design conditions. Required documents had been prepared by June 2009; the revised design was submitted for approval, and in August of the following year the designs were approved. In May 2011, the Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments  issued permission to proceed. In June of the same year, a building permit was obtained from the State Construction Supervision and Expertise Department.

Construction continued, and a whole range of additional work was carried out in the building in connection with the new requirements: the fire barriers and the smoke exhaust system were installed, fire resistance of the liftwell was improved, the roof was replaced with a fire-resistant one, etc. Today, the glazing of the interior space of Building 7 has already been completed; in addition, the supporting framework has been built, a significant part of MEP systems has been installed, and work on the installation of the heat-supply system is now being carried out.

It is too early to talk about exact construction completion dates. The building in which the students of St Petersburg University have classes is located in the historic district of St Petersburg, which means that special requirements apply to design, mechanical and electrical systems, and construction. The future of the project largely depends on changing technical standards and financing.

The sponsors

From the very beginning, the Public Legal Information/Library Centre project has been financed exclusively through extra-budgetary resources. Funds were raised by the disciplinary area of Law and from the University’s sponsors — PJSC Gazprom, OOO Gazprom Komplektatsiya, OJSC Severgazprom, OJSC Svyazinvest, and other companies that have donated tens of millions of roubles to St Petersburg University for implementation of this large-scale project. Financial assistance to the University, aimed at the development of new information technologies in the Law Library of the Maxim Gorky Main Research Library, was at different times also provided by the Russian Fund of Legal Reforms, OJSC Russky Diesel, and other patrons. 

In December 2015, Gazprom Komplektatsiya provided 70 million roubles to St Petersburg University, which will be of great help in moving the construction work towards completion and the project towards commissioning.

“We very much hope that the financial support from Gazprom Komplektatsiya, the company to which we are very grateful for its assistance, will enable us to complete construction in the very near future; a lot of the work will be finished as early as at the end of this year,” said Marina Lavrikova, Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods.

See also Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting, held on July 9, 2012, Section 2 (“How the money of ‘lawyers and economists’ saved the University”).