Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hines Has New Look for Ducat Place

For MTDucat Place's new glass tower will grace the streets behind the Mayakovskaya metro.
Looks may not be everything, but attractive, international-standard buildings are catching the market's eye, developers say.

U.S. developer Hines will present plans Wednesday for a glimmering, streamlined 14-story office tower Ducat Place, which would not look out of place in Paris or New York, after scrapping a project that aimed only to meet City Hall's requirements.

"It's a very efficient international design," said Lee Timmins, senior vice president at Hines.

The original design set the tower behind a lower section that matched the height of other buildings on the street.

"We talked with the city about what we could do to maintain their interest of creating a facade line that is in keeping with the rest of the street, while at the same time setting our building back and opening up a plaza area," Timmins said.

The designers created the illusion of a facade line with a colonnade of transparent pillars that set the building off the street.

The new building, located at 6 Ulitsa Gasheka, a block from the intersection of the Garden Ring and Tverskaya Ulitsa, will cover 52,000 square meters, including three underground parking levels, and will have 30,000 square meters of rentable space. Most floors will be 2,200 square meters. Both the lobby and the top floor will be double height.

"Now we have a much taller building with efficient floor plates for tenants, great views and more light. It's a signal that the city of Moscow is open for new ideas," Timmins said.

Hines also managed to negotiate a modern stairwell system. City Hall requirements that stairwells run along the perimeter of the building are out of step with advances in fire safety technology. In the United States, most stairwells are in the core of the building.

Ducat Place will have one stairwell in the center. The other will add an architectural twist to the front of the building.

The modern building will still reflect the architectural language of the capital, Timmins said. Floor-to-ceiling windows around the perimeter will provide more light and allow more flexibility with office layouts. But girders added to the exterior walls will create a visual reference to the "punched-out" windows of traditional buildings.

For MT

Ducat Place's new glass tower will grace the streets behind the Mayakovskaya metro.

Maintaining the city's architectural character "is the fundamental goal that the city has," Timmins said, "and it's important to us too."

Moscow-based architects ABV Group and international firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill have modeled the interior along the lines of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion. The lobby features green marble and translucent onyx or agate.

"Mies thought that there was too little use of high-quality materials in modern buildings and we think that too," Timmins said.

Timmins declined to give a value for the project, but said the new design is more expensive than the original one approved by City Hall.

In 2001, Andrew Wixom, then head of the BrookeMil Ltd. real estate development company, which represented the site's former owner Western Realty, valued the project at about $70 million.

Ducat Place will be the third office building constructed on the former site of the Ducat tobacco factory, which moved to a new factory on Kashirskoye Shosse in 1999.

Citibank owns the first building, called Ducat I. Hines took over management of the second building, Ducat II, after consulting on the project. To move away from serial numbering, Hines, the majority owner of the site through its $436 million emerging markets fund, has called the third lot Ducat Place.

Demolition of the existing structure is to finish in the fall. Construction of the new building is scheduled to finish in the middle of 2005.

Italian construction company Codest will build Ducat Place. Codest also built Ducat II and Gogolevsky 11 and is now working on Baltic Plaza, an office development close to the Baltschug Hotel.

In late 1996, U.S. casino and real estate mogul Donald Trump was eyeing the Ducat Place site for a possible luxury apartment tower to be called Trump International.

Maksim Kunin, head of Fleming Family & Partners' real estate fund, which is looking to invest in five cream-of-the-crop class A buildings in Moscow, said a building's appearance -- though secondary to investors after facilities, flexibility and location -- can be the icing on the cake.

"Everyone wants to have a nice building and the look of the building adds to the price in New York, London or Paris," Kunin said.

In 2001, the Seagram Building in New York sold at a huge premium to the market for just that reason, he said. Its facilities were top quality, but a lot of other buildings also had them.

"Without a good appearance a building will never fetch the highest price. Moscow's 11 Gogolevsky wouldn't be such a prime building if it didn't look good," Kunin said.