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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Palace Starts Revamp

Itar-TassIn the first stage the State Kremlin Palace's sound and lighting are being rewired.
With a new director comes a new look. The State Kremlin Palace, the Soviet Union's answer to Lincoln Center, is getting a makeover.

Towering above the Kremlin walls, the gray monolith concert hall has been a stage to every big act to hit Russia, from David Bowie to Alla Pugachyova.

Known as the Palace of Congresses in Soviet times, the building was built in the same year Russia sent the first man into space, 1961, and has not been remodeled since.

It was initially intended to host Communist Party congresses, but soon became the country's most prestigious venue for everything from song to ballet, even though it does not have an orchestra pit.

Now, Pyotr Shaboltai, the palace's new director, who left the Rossia concert hall last year to take his post at the Kremlin, is taking the well-known, 6,000-seat theater apart and putting it back together again.

"We started with the light and sound because that's the most important thing for a concert hall," said Svetlana Buryanova, a spokeswoman for the State Kremlin Palace. "Then, as funds become available, we will start redesigning the interior and finally reconstructing the outside of the building."

Buryanova declined to say how much the reconstruction was expected to cost.

Some work has already been done on the foundation, she said.

The palace's heavily Soviet interior will be spruced up, offices are to be widened and modern equipment is to be installed.

But much of the interior will retain something of its original look, and some features will be kept.

"After all, the whole inside is made from very high-quality stone," Buryanova said.

The concert hall's administrators hope reconstruction of the exterior will begin this summer.

"A passer-by won't think anything has changed from the outside," Buryanova said, "but the interior will look different."

ISPA Engineering, a Moscow-based company, installed equipment from Meyer Sound Laboratories to replace the concert hall's outdated acoustics system this month.

Lighting was modernized at the end of last year.

The concert hall contracted Leica Geosystems to scan the interior of the hall, using a laser to build a three-dimensional acoustic model of the interior to plan the renovations.

Changes to the 6,450-square-meter building won't just be physical though, the palace is getting a virtual make over as well.

"We've hired a company to redo our web site, they've got a photo team working on graphics for us, the design should be professional and the site -- -- should be running soon," Buryanova said.