In the icy outskirts of Moscow lies a massive new complex: one part academic institution, one part alien mother ship. Designed by London- and Berlin-based Adjaye Associates, the Moscow School of Management, Skolkovo, is a 460,000-square-foot megastructure that contains all the usual facets of campus life—classrooms, lecture halls, a cafeteria, and a 660-seat auditorium, among others—in a series of interconnected buildings. In 2006, in conjunction with a state-led, Vladimir Putin'endorsed push to make Moscow a prominent center of world trade, a contingent of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen—including magnate Roman Abramovich, the world’s 53rd richest person—launched the initiative to establish Skolkovo. Four years and $250 million later, a new university had risen.
The central structure is a poured-in-place concrete disc 475 feet in diameter that houses academic and recreational facilities. Entrances and parking are tucked beneath the disc on the ground level, allowing visitors to avoid the cold by driving into a garage-like enclosure. The customary campus green, fine for more temperate climates, is replaced at Skolkovo by interstitial spaces between “teaching units” that are used for informal gathering and exhibiting student work. Four boxy volumes of varying sizes, clad in a mosaic of colored aluminum-composite panels, sit atop this base. These blocks are largely filled with residential spaces, including 123 dormitory-style student suites and a 126-room hotel for visitors. One of the four rectilinear structures, distinguished from its comrades by golden aluminum cladding, contains athletic facilities, including a gymnasium and fitness center.