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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belorussky Square Seeks Facelift

Hoping to give Belorussky Station and its environs a much-needed facelift, the Moscow city government's architecture committee has launched an architectural competition for designs to redevelop the area.

Belorussky Station and the square in front of it suffer from the chronic but typical architectural maladies of Russia's capital.

A hodgepodge of buildings from divergent periods and styles - from 19th-century neoclassicism to Stalinist constructivism - the area is hard to access by foot or car.

The frequent traffic jams from the station onto Leningradsky Prospekt have been known to span a kilometer, stretching to the north along Leningradsky and to the south along both Tverskaya and 1st Brestskaya ulitsas.

The area is also an ecological disaster area, posing health risks to pedestrians forced to breathe noxious train and automobile fumes as they traverse the awkward underground passages extending from the station, said Alexander Rakhitin, the Moscow architecture committee's director for architectural competitions.

The architecture committee would like to see the competition extended to include foreign architectural firms as well as their Russian counterparts, but fears that the bureaucratic maze international architects would be forced to navigate will discourage them from participating, Rakhitin said.

Given Belorussky Station's unique status as both historic square and train station, the reconstruction of the area would necessarily involve a welter of three municipal committees - for transportation, historical preservation and ecology - and may ultimately prove more feasible for Russian architectural firms.

The question of whether or not foreign firms will be invited to participate will be decided by the committee within the next two weeks.

A series of reconstruction projects at some of Moscow's central squares is under way, including at Krestyanskaya Zastava Square - for which an architectural planning competition was recently completed - Kursky Station and others. Belorussky Station is now set to get the same treatment as these eyesores.

The changes envisaged won't be all-encompassing, as many of the buildings that face onto the square are privately owned businesses. Receiving permission necessary to carry out any remodeling of these edifices may prove difficult if not outright impossible - thereby limiting the opportunity to give the area a unified look.

Despite these limitations, some plans for improving the square have been hammered out - although no estimates for a possible budget for the development have been worked out - Rakhitin said.

A large shopping complex is in the works, which is to be located next to the new Belorusskaya metro entrance and, it is hoped, will dissipate the group of small vendors on the square that lend it its current aura of an open-air bazaar.

Office complexes are to be built in the Brestskaya Ulitsa area. Still more ambitious is a project to build a multilevel parking garage under the square itself, provided that geological conditions are favorable.