Evolution Tower

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Evolution Tower
Башня Эволюция
Moscow International Business Center A 02.jpg
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Architectural style Neo-futuristic
Location Moscow International Business Center, Moscow, Russia
Construction started 2011
Completed 6 October 2014
Owner Transneft [1]
Architectural 246 m (807 ft)
Tip 246 m (807 ft)
Top floor 220 m (722 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 55
Floor area 82,000 m2 (882,641 sq ft) (tower)
169,000 m2 (1,819,101 sq ft) (development)
Lifts/elevators 17
Design and construction
Architect Lead Architect Tony Kettle (whilst at RMJM) with Karen Forbes and local architect Gorproject as development architect
Developer Snegiri Development
Structural engineer GK-Techstroy, GORPROJECT
Main contractor Renaissance Construction

The Evolution Tower (Russian: Эволюция) is a skyscraper located on the Presnenskaya Embankment of Moskva river, part of the Moscow International Business Center in Russia. Construction of the tower began in 2011 and was completed in late 2014, the 246-meter tall Tower was designed by British architect Tony Kettle (Kettle Collective) and Scottish artist Prof Karen Forbes (University of Edinburgh). The multi-function center is 2.5 hectares in area, 2 hectare of which is a terrace landscaped civic plaza. The civic plaza includes a 10-metre tall ceremonial stairs (leading from Bagration Bridge to the higher levels) as well as landscaped areas with lawns, trees, water features, travelators and lightboxes. Under the piazza levels the 2-story mall connects the Evolution Tower with the metro station and a bridge over Moskva river; in 2016, Transneft bought the Evolution Tower for $1 Billion.


The 82,000 m2 office tower has 52 levels rotated 3° each and floors with overall twist reaching 156° clockwise, with the world’s largest cold-bent glazing, the tower façade provides seamless floating reflection that rotates the panoramas of Moscow skyline vertically. The Crown with supporting steel structure made of two twisted arches provides a helipad at the very top as well as an open observation roof deck at Level 52 , the Evolution Gallery mall within the podium houses a food court and 6,000 m2 family entertainment and educational center Masterslavl.

From St. Basil to Tatlin's Tower, Russian architecture has historically made great use of spirals. The DNA-shaped tower symbolizes evolution, however the original concept of the spiral tower (City Palace Tower, 2005-2008) was inspired by a different metaphor; in 2004 the Moscow city authorities planned the construction of the Wedding Palace; the registry office and wedding spaces within a multi-function complex on a 2.5 hectare civic plaza with the shopping center and parking below. The winning entry (concept by Russian architect Philipp Nikandrov and RMJM Scotland Ltd team) of the 2004 international competition held by Snegiri Group proposed the balanced composition of two "twisting crystals". Through a series of iterations and dialogue between the city authorities, developer Alexander Tchigirinsky, and architect Philipp Nikandrov, the idea transformed into two twisting ribbons symbolizing the groom and bride embracing each other in a dance, the 2,000 m2 Wedding Palace is housed under the curved atrium, the "skirt" of the "bride", the offices above has 80,000 m2 of space.

In 2006 the updated concept by RMJM Scotland Ltd team received a planning permission, and in 2008 the tower construction permit was finally granted, though the actual commencement of construction works on the podium structure started earlier in 2005, and the perimeter diaphragm wall was built back in 1997 for completely different project on the same plot, so there was a certain heritage to deal with, including the obligations imposed by municipality to provide the link between the metro station and pedestrian bridge over Moscow-river, which was done with temporary status before the finally developed and coordinated construction documentation got officially approved by State Building Control. However, in the late 2008 on receipt of construction permit for 47-storey City Palace Tower and appointment of Turkish main contractor under Bovis site management the entire investment plan collapsed under the wave of the world economic crisis, the construction work paused, and the project got suspended until the new market resurrection in 2011, when the developer (Snegiri Group) managed to change the pool of investors and reconsidered the scheme of financing, the credit line provided by Gazprombank required extremely fast construction speed, so the scheme underwent a number of optimizations aiming to build such a unique and complex tower at the cost and within the construction programme of a conventional tower. In 2011 the project changed its main contractor, Renaissance Construction, Russian/Turkish company was already in the list of 100 leading construction companies of the world, however this tower was the first high-rise building of such complexity for the firm, and to their credit, the contractor demonstrated great ability for experiment and quality.

In 2011 drastic design changes followed the new functional program and the revised design brief which was undertaken by local architect Philip Nikandrov and GORPROJECT. City authorities have lost their interest in developing the Wedding Palace in the middle of a business downtown, where traffic jams can ruin the sequence of wedding ceremonies, and the City Palace Tower subsequently lost its title/core function; in 2011, the 100% office building was rebranded as Evolution Tower together with elimination of the Wedding Palace component and top spaces for post ceremonial celebrations. The lower atrium-skirt and the Crown have been lost, the faceted façade has been totally redesigned as cold-bent, decentralized services engineering concept has been reconsidered in favour of a more conventional centralized system with additional 3 plant levels, and the vertical transportation system based on double-deckers has been replaced by an innovative TWIN system by ThyssenKrupp with completely redesigned core layout. All of that resulted in addition of 5 more levels (from 47 to 52), and at the end none of RMJM original concept has been left except for the spiraling shape and structural scheme with gridlines, the fully reconsidered design concept based on a metaphor of evolution spiral features the white façade ribbon wrapping over the roof in a form of 90-degree twisted infinity symbol, that speaks of philosophical concept of evolution and celebrates the development of human civilization.

Structural solutions[edit]

The simple and innovative design was based on principles of twisting square-shaped floor plates with vertical structural RC frame supported by a central core and 8 columns in the octagon arrangement with continuous beams, and 4 spiraling columns at the corners, the proposed structural scheme with cantilevered continuous RC beams and cantilevered floor slabs, picking up the overhangs from the twisted floor plates, appeared to be simple, efficient and economical. Several other twisting towers are now under construction, though some other twisters have much more complex structures including the famous truss-supported Turning Torso tower in Malmo, Sweden. However, with the floor slab layout changing 52 times (52 floors twisting by 3 degrees each level) pouring the concrete presented a certain logistical challenge. Nevertheless, the solution was found: the innovative formwork system by PERI provided that core walls and floor slabs are concreted in one pour with each floor divided into three sections. Four hydraulic self-climbing (ACS) units have been used to make large working platforms, where the top three floors under construction are tightly enclosed with a rail-climbing protection panel also providing the wind protection and formwork for the 4 twisting corner columns, the units climb the constant twist of the building in an inclined position, propelled by hydraulics, where the installed rail-guided system (with inclined rails connected to the building frame by slab shoes) ensured a fast and safe climb in inclined positions. Landing platforms climb on rails hydraulically with the help of mobile climbing devices (without a crane), on the sides of the building, rail-climbing landing platforms (RCS) provide temporary storage areas and move loads. This bespoke self-climbing formwork system allowed to achieve the impressive maximum speed of RC frame construction of 6 days per floor with 7 days per floor as an average speed.

12 concrete columns and central core are supported by the 3.5m thick raft over piled foundations. It took 48 hours to pour 8,000 cubic meters of concrete for the raft. 8 circular columns at 15m spacing are varying in diameter from 2.1m at the bottom to 1.2m at the top. All columns and the core walls are provided with fire protection of 4hrs to comply with very conservative fire safety requirements.

Building Services[edit]

The fire engineering equipment includes sprinkler system throughout as well as local powder and gas fire suppression systems, mechanical smoke extract from the core, pressurized stairwells, public address and egress management systems, fire and smoke detectors and the permanent monitoring of the structural frame elements and monitoring of building services as part of BMS. Category 1 electrical supply from 2 independent sources is supported additionally by diesel generators and UPS batteries, the water supply and district heating are also provided from two incoming mains each. Ventilation and air-conditioning (fan coils by Carrier) are designed based on a ratio of 60m3 per person. Most engineering systems and telecommunications specifications comply with class A standards.

Facade solutions[edit]

The cold-bent glass design emphasizes lightness and dynamic form visually defying gravity, as a two hundred-meters high sculpture, crafted of materials traditionally believed to be fragile and inflexible, the tower symbolizes the idea of evolution spiral as the pinnacle of progress and the power of human intellect, challenging the forces of nature and the laws of physics. The innovative cold-bent glazing in the curtain wall uses flat double glazed units cold-formed in 3D within the aluminum frame to avoid stepping in geometry, this approach appeared to be both a more energy-efficient and more cost-efficient solution in comparison to the stepped curtain wall units previously applied in some twisted unitized facades. During factory fabrication the glass unit is placed in the twisted aluminum frame horizontally and then takes curved shape by its own weight without any thermal treatment. Maximum corner deformation does not exceed 50 mm relative to the opposite corner of the unit. The final façade looks like a continuously twisted spiral glass surface as a result. Currently this curtain wall is the world’s largest cold bent façade in terms of the area in one building. Organic cold-bent glazed ribbon with constant leaning angle at the corners (approx. 14 degrees vertically) creates a stunning optical illusion reflecting the surrounding cityscape vertically with 90-degree twist.

Evolution tower's total façade area is 40,500 sq m, including 34,500 sq m of the typical facade areas from 3-rd to 51-st level, on each floor the curtain wall consists of 108 parallelogram façade panels 4.3 m high and 1.5m wide. 27 of them have 2 types of different sizes that vary with twist angle from +14 to -14 that largely complicated the construction logistics. However the implementation of this façade structure was successful due to involvement of German façade company Joseph Gartner (Permasteelisa Group) in design and production of tower curtain wall, atrium glazing and canopies /entrances, the company was selected through the tender with 30 façade manufacturers competing for a prestigious contract. The aluminum profiles were extruded in Russia at a specially arranged production line, despite glass units fabrication in Germany with all associated delivery and customs duties, the overall façade cost per m2 remained within the budget of a ‘standard’ benchmark high-rise tower, that was an achievement of German logistics. Double glazed units with energy-efficient multi-functional glass (manufactured by Guardian) provide the energy efficiency and thermal insulation parameters (U-Value) similar to those of standard triple glazed units but with less weight in panoramic floor to ceiling application, the units themselves were assembled in Germany by BGT, who provided long-time warranty for cold bent heat-strengthened glass in a result of multiple tests. Transparent double glazed units consist of triplex 8+6mm from heat-strengthened glass from the outside and 8mm Guardian Standard HP Neutral 60/40 tempered glass on the inside with application of energy efficient coating, significantly reducing the solar gain whilst providing the double glazed unit thermal performance equal to a standard triple glazed unit normally used in Moscow to withstand harsh winter conditions. Guardian SunGuard production technology allows to create a combination of transparent and spandrel façade areas. Guardian magnetron coating is colored outside and transparent on the inside, which does not distort the view color unlike tinted glass in mass, with no color filter (color is from the coating, not from coloured glass) the high color quality provides comfortable environment inside the building given that the glass panel is 3m high (floor to ceiling). Glass unit formula with heat-strengthened triplex outside and tempered glass inside allows bending of the unit in installation position to achieve required façade geometry providing additional safety of envelope structure, as in case of destruction the tempered glass (5 times stronger than usual) is fractured in small pieces and triplex lamination film protects it from falling out. Heat strengthened glass triplex gains additional strength and reduces the risk of glass destruction via associated heat soak tests as part of the production process.


The Tower crown representing the bent of a striped ribbon façade consists of two 41m span twisted steel arches with interim steel supports cantilevered from the central cylindrical RC core walls and 4 smaller arches-props supporting the white steel ribbons-stripes (tubular frames filled with perforated steel sheets). The twisted steel arches were designed and manufactured in Piedmont, Italy, and then delivered to Moscow in pieces by trucks and then finally assembled on the roof (bolted from inside).

The parapet glazing surrounding the open-roof observation deck on Level 52 is made of cold bent (tempered triplex) glass with motorized foldable top elements for easy access of the BMU cradle over the parapet, the bespoke BMU system with three articulated arms crane and 300 kg auxiliary hoist follows the complex twisting form of the façade in order to guarantee the proper access for maintenance and cleaning of the curtain wall. The special cradle has been designed to reach all the positions along the façade without physical impact on the curtain wall with support of safety straps, push locks and sockets incorporated in each curtain wall unit, special sticks and soft rubber rollers preventing any scratches or other damage from cradle contacts with fragile envelope of glass, pressure caps and soft aluminum cladding.


Podium terraced and landscaped roof (part of a new civic plaza of Moscow City business downtown) serves as open public space for recreation activities, plants, greenery, fountains/water features, open outdoor cafes etc, the podium retail mall skylights and entrance porticos/canopies rising above the plaza as accents also serve as light boxes for the plaza architectural lighting (fritted glazing captures the light from LED wallwashers changing colours). Glass skylights and entrance canopies are built as whole glass structures – planar glazing on spiders with the bearing structures (beams-fins and vertical mullion fins) made of triplex glass with stainless steel fittings and spiders. Skylights and canopy roofs are made of triplex glass with electrical heating (preventing ice and snow cover on the outer side and water condensation on the internal side of the glass) The glass is covered with energy saving frit pattern, decreasing solar radiation gain while preserving transparence and sufficient light penetration. Vast usage of planar glazing in the interiors of Evolution Gallery shopping mall also included the LED media walls and LED backlit columns cladding with tempered hot-bent glass with gradient silk printed frit.

Vertical Transportation[edit]

The original tower Vertical Transportation concept had 12 lift shafts with standard double-decker elevators. However, during the construction stage tender the VT scheme was replaced by a TWIN system by ThyssenKrupp, the first elevator system to have two cabs running independently one above the other in the same shaft, this technology has many advantages over conventional elevator systems, including the fact that waiting and travel times are reduced to a minimum due to intelligent destination selection control system monitored by computer optimizing the travel logistics between calls. The use of innovative TWIN elevators saved 2 shafts within the core (10 TWINs up to 7m/sec speed instead of 12 double-deckers in the original concept with 12 double-decker elevators), freeing up an additional useful space in the building across all floors for MEP shafts. TWIN technology also contributed to the overall project sustainability with lesser power consumption per passenger (the ‘separated’ cabs in TWIN system are much lighter than double-decker cab, hence less starting currents and resulting power consumption, the cabs are in fact similar to a single elevator production line, so the maintenance cost is less too due to availability of cheaper standard spare parts unlike in the bespoke double-deckers.

Sustainable design[edit]

Other sustainable design features include vegetated green roofs over the retail mall and integrated coil floor heating under landscaped civic piazza levels using the return water in winter to melt the snow and ice for the safety of pedestrians. ThyssenKrupp also installed 4 outdoor travelators at the piazza, that move people between terrace levels of the civic plaza (10m height difference in levels) and can work in rain and snow through extreme winter conditions.

Icon of Modern Moscow[edit]

The development delivered a significant open public space on the landscaped roof of the retail mall, providing a mix of public and social activities including the civic plaza and the mall with its food court and core family entertainment function, it also features a car-park complemented by a direct link to the metro station and pedestrian bridge as a means of public transportation. Even before its completion the sculptural spiral of Evolution Tower appeared in commercials, posters and magazines, became seen as a new icon for modern Moscow as the symbol of its business ambitions and fast development.


In 2016 the Evolution Tower was nominated 2nd world’s best skyscraper in Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015, it become a Finalist of 2016 MIPIM Awards and a Finalist of 2015 CTBUH Best Tall Building Awards (Finalist for European region), it was voted Best Moscow office building of 2015, received the gran-prix and national award in the 2015 Glass in Architecture competition and first prize of 2015 national NOPRIZ Awards competition, 2016 CRE Award Moscow as Moscow best class A office building, in 2014 the Evolution Gallery mall (phase 1 of development) was awarded by the city authorities as Moscow best multi-use building. A member of the CTBUH jury responsible for selecting the finalists, Anthony Wood, executive director of CTBUH, was quoted as saying: "The world has seen an increasing number of twisting towers in the last decade or so, but Evolution Tower takes the record for the most extreme twist."[3]

Evolution Tower is the second place runner-up in Emporis Skyscraper Award 2015, it was recognized by the award jury for its expressive design.[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°44′54″N 37°32′31″E / 55.74833°N 37.54194°E / 55.74833; 37.54194