Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, artists and designers around the world have been quick to denounce the military action by stopping involvement in projects within the country. Leading Western architects, including OMA, Zaha Hadid Architects, and David Chipperfield Architects, are now joining the effort by suspending work in Russia.
Netherlands-based MVRDV was one of the first major firms to halt work in the country, announcing on February 28 that it is ceasing work on five ongoing projects in Russia, including the 170,000-square-foot "Red7" apartment complex in Moscow. On the same day, the International Union of Architects (UIA) issued a statement offering support to those affected by the conflict: "On behalf of the international community of architects, we condemn any act of violence or war affecting the well-being and dignity of humans, join the global appeal against war and call for the immediate restoration of peace," the statement reads.
Within Russia, architects, designers, and planners joined the protest—at much higher risk to their own safety and wellbeing—with a public letter denouncing the invasion that had gained over 6,700 signatures by Thursday. "We, the architects and urban planners of Russia, consider the offensive of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine unacceptable," the letter began in Russian.
But on Friday, the letter and list of signatories were deleted and replaced with a brief statement. "Unfortunately, due to the threat of criminal liability under the law that came into force today, we were forced to remove the text of the letter," it reads, apparently in reference to a new censorship law enacted by Russia's parliament.
Nonetheless, the new statement's authors were steadfast in their opposition to the war. It is illustrated with a 1961 Pablo Picasso sketch of a dove, and it concludes, "We are for peace!"
Below is a list of statements from major firms that are suspending work in Russia:
- Zaha Hadid Architects: "ZHA has worked in Russia for four decades. Zaha Hadid was originally inspired by works of the Russian Avant-garde and many of our staff have taught architecture students at universities across the country. We are deeply shocked and saddened by the conflict in Ukraine and have placed our two ongoing projects in Russia on hold. We have completed our contracted works on all other projects in the country and continue to monitor guidance from the UK Government."
- OMA: "Following the aggression in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian leadership, OMA has suspended all work on Russian projects until further notice. We hope this tragic war ends sooner rather than later."
- David Chipperfield Architects: "Given the invasion of Ukraine, and with the full understanding and support of our clients, David Chipperfield Architects has decided to suspend all work in Russia. We condemn the actions of Putin and the Russian government and stand in solidarity with Ukraine and its people. As a practice we believe in dialogue, openness and engagement; values that are directly opposed to the ongoing war. We call for an immediate end to this human tragedy and our thoughts are with the innocent victims of this unjustified action."
- Herzog & de Meuron: "The invasion of Ukraine and the violent actions of Putin and the Russian government are against every value we hold as an international, collaborative practice. Therefore, Herzog & de Meuron has decided to suspend our work on Russian projects. We do this with the understanding of our clients."
- Snøhetta confirmed to RECORD that it is suspending work in the country and issued a statement via social media: "As we witness the shocking tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, we stand in solidarity with all people who are defying and protesting against the war. Snøhetta condemns all acts of violence and we send our heartfelt thoughts to the people of Ukraine and everyone affected."
- Foster + Partners: "We deplore the Russian invasion of Ukraine and as a result we have stopped work on all our projects in Russia."
Some firms that do not currently have projects in Russia also issued statements of support:
- Liz Diller, speaking on behalf of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, told RECORD: "We are horrified by Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, especially the indiscriminate destruction of civilian areas. As bombs drop on Kyiv and its Babyn Yar memorial, the site of a Nazi massacre, we are deeply anguished that this unprovoked assault compounds a long history of crimes perpetrated against the Ukrainian people. While standing in solidarity with Ukraine and hoping that diplomacy will ultimately prevail, we are actively investigating ways that we, as architects, can help. One immediate aim is to converge expertise from the architecture community in support of international agencies and local governments as they provide emergency housing for the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war."
- Bjarke Ingels Group, via Instagram: "BIG joins the international community in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, our colleagues, friends and families in the region. BIG is not engaged in any projects in Russia or for the Russian government anywhere and our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, democracy, human rights and territorial integrity is unwavering."
- The Scotland-based Kettle Collective, which designed the proposed Lakhta Centre II in St. Petersburg, told RECORD: "We work across many countries at Kettle Collective and we are made up of an international team, including Russians and Ukrainians who are directly affected by this dreadful war, and our thoughts remain firmly with them, their families and the many thousands of Ukrainians affected by this senseless invasion."