In 2011 President Medvedev and the Mayor of Moscow announced a plan to to move the Ministries and Offices of the Federal and City Government to a south-western expansion area, doubling the territory controlled by the City of Moscow Administration, and leasing a huge amount of private land and buildings to stimulate growth.

An international competition for the expansion of Moscow city was held, with first prize in the design of the new Federal Capital District of Moscow City awarded to Capital Cities Planning Group (CCPG), an Anglo-American team led by Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh, in which Gillespies played a central role as landscape architects and environmental planners. “The city in the forest” concept was a key structuring element at each stage of the competition.

The plan accommodates 1.7 million people, providing 800,000 new jobs with a focus around the “triple helix” of government, education and business. The plan looks to create an integrated, properly-planned urban hierarchy served by a transit-orientated movement system around a series of forests and ecological lakes designed by Gillespies.

The approach to the ecological and landscape design was to work with the environment, to understand its capability to carry people and development without harm to its intrinsic qualities and the diversity of its habitats. The team promoted ecological design that recognised the force of nature, the strength of water, the cleansing and health-giving qualities of an ecologically diverse landscape, whilst recognising the aesthetic contribution that landscape can make to enhance urban design and architectural composition and thereby reveal the qualities of climate and culture that mark the manner of a city’s respect for its setting.

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