Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, is brash and grandiose—and wildly attractive to young strivers seeking success. The Baiterek, towering over Astana's central promenade, flares green against a dappled evening sky. Visitors eagerly match palms with the solid gold handprint of President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the Baiterek monument's observation deck. On special occasions, placing a palm on the handprint triggers a recording of the national anthem, said to be written by the president. A flock of giant doves flutters on a stained-glass conference room ceiling at the Palace of Peace and Harmony. Go-go dancers strut on the bar of the Fashion club, among the trendiest of Astana's dozen or so discotheques. Flanked by traditional Kazakh dancers, a bride awaits her formal unveiling at an opulent wedding palace, where she has just been married in a ceremony capped by the release of two white doves. McMansions that could have been airlifted from any American suburb are among the more incongruous sights in Astana, whose architectural style is nothing if not eclectic.
The French Riviera it isn't, but Astana makes the most of its brief summer, when young men gather at the Esil River to flex their muscles before appreciative members of the opposite sex.
Like thousands of educated young professionals in Astana, these cardplayers at a riverside park grew up in other parts of Kazakhstan and moved to the new capital for the opportunities it promised. The sloping marble base of the Khan Shatyr shopping mall proves irresistible to barefoot youngsters on Astana Day, a public holiday that celebrates the founding of the new capital. Nomads no more, Kazakhs celebrate their footloose heritage at events like this cultural festival in Astana, where young women soar on a swing while others wander amid yurts, music performances, and vendors of fermented mare's milk.
A crumbling single-family home harks back to an earlier era, when the town once known as Aqmola was a remote outpost of the Russian and then Soviet empires.
The alabaster white pillar known as the Kazakh peoples' monument is topped by the mythological golden Samruk.


Phase 2, which was completed in 2004, includes a large Natatorium with a state-of-the-art indirect illumination system providing glare free lighting of the three, full-size indoor swimming pools. A comprehensive, facility-wide programmable control system gives the administrative staff complete lighting control flexibility and status indication from one location, with networked system communications provisions connecting the entire Facility. Los Angeles based design firm Cuningham Group Architecture renovated a space in Culver City’s Hayden Tract district for their own offices. Privacy for conference rooms was created by bringing in a circular interior structure that not only provides two separate rooms, it creates a really cool sculptural element in the office.
Old shipping containers (above, on the left) were brought in to house private offices and to provide extra storage space.
They brought in native, indoor plants to help filter the office air and bring a little nature inside.
Very creative space, the separation of space created with the wooden tunnel structure is a fantastic design, the idea of using such natural material to create such a fun space to work with is brilliant and probably not budget blowing !
Intended as a symbol of the new capital, the 318-foot monument evokes a giant tree with a golden egg in its branches. The 203-foot-high pyramid designed by Norman Foster provides spaces for worshippers of all religions. After dark, government buildings change hues as the night progresses, creating a theme park atmosphere.
This serious young bride is preparing for a formal farewell ceremony at her parents' apartment, to be followed by toasts with fermented mare's milk.
Many of these wood-and-plaster dwellings have been torn down to make way for modern high-rises like the one in the background. The monolith is a beacon for visitors, like these ethnic Kazakhs from the southern city of Taraz. Phase 1 - completed in 2000 - included a full Community Gymnasium and Activity Center, with an impressive glass atrium-style lobby, which separates the gymnasium and community activity spaces for aerobics, dance, exercise equipment, locker rooms, and conference areas from the specially designed child care and teen activity wing.


Also included in the second Phase of this expansive facility are additional locker facilities dedicated to the Swim Center and power cogeneration equipment to efficiently utilize the pool heating equipment and produce electric power for the facility.
Other integrated building systems extended throughout both Phases of the Building include public address, security, and central clock. The new space is slated for LEED Gold certification due to many sustainable elements that were incorporated, like indoor and outdoor gardens, light sensors, repurposed shipping containers, and more.
The lack of cubicles and high warehouse ceilings allows for maximum daylight to pour in, which helps reduce lighting costs. They are also planning a vegetable garden, which will work well since the company encourages family-style meals.
She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and writes about her life, inspirations and creative pursuits on her element75 blog.
In the Kazakh myth of Samruk, a sacred bird lays a golden egg in the branches of a poplar each year. They also have large glass windows and doors at the back and front of the building, bringing in even more light. Prize-winning British architect Norman Foster is one of many foreigners who helped shape the city. His purple Khan Shatyr shopping mall has an indoor sand beach and wave pool on the top floor.
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