The official opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St Petersburg in November 2013 not only marked the Russian debut of one of the world’s most prestigious hotel brands, it also unveiled a restored national treasure. For ReardonSmith, it was the conclusion of a three-year project as the interior architect, looking after the owner’s interest, safeguarding the interior design intent and championing Four Seasons’ exemplary standards.
The hotel was created within the historic "Lions Palace" which was completed in 1817 and was briefly a royal residence before becoming the home of the Ministry of War until 1917. It was then put to use in various ways, resulting in reconstructions that lost or damaged the glorious original interiors. In 2002, the decision was taken to restore the property and prepare it as a premier hotel.
When ReardonSmith came on board, the interiors had been stripped back to their stone and concrete shell. The next task was to bring the site up to a workable standard; documentation also needed to be amended for acceptance by local contractors and craftsmen and some elements required fine-tuning to fit within the new infrastructure. Two of the three open-air courtyards were enclosed to create expansive ground floor public areas, and while the glass and steel structures are clearly modern in design, the geometry reflects the "winter garden" enclosures popular at the time the palace was built.
The seamless integration of technology and the services infrastructure was also a key element of the project. In addition to the grand ballroom, there are state-of-the-art meeting and conference spaces, fine-dining restaurants, a four-storey fitness centre culminating in a spa at top level and 177 guestrooms including 26 suites. Where they remained, the heritage elements were painstakingly restored, while new detailing in the public areas was skilfully crafted to be in keeping with original features.
A ReardonSmith team was retained on-site to coordinate and manage the design implementation, while all principle drawing and documentation production was carried out by the London office.