Faces and Helmets

Faces and Helmets

The people behind Luzhniki Stadium’s renovation
In mid-50s the Luzhniki project (which was then known as the Central Lenin Stadium), was given three months on the design and just 15 months to be built. In 2013, the famous ‘Luzha’ as Muscovites are used to calling it, began major renovations ahead of the 2018 World Cup. Some 3,000 people are working on it right now. Welcome2018.com met some of them and found out what it means to be the ones to bring the new Luzhniki to life.
Sergei Korochkin
Finisher
"We don’t actually have breaks; we start in the morning and work throughout the whole day with just one break to have lunch. While working we always wear gloves, it’s necessary according to safety regulations because we work with iron, there are plenty of sharp edges. Gloves are given out once a week. You see letters SK? It means Sergei Korochkin. Actually, it means "Stroykontinent", but it also happens to be my initials."
Karina Kosheleva
Senior construction control engineer
"For me Luzhniki and this construction is the symbol of our country in the eyes of the world. We aren’t very lucky with our national football team, but our stadium will be the best. I remember how I handed over my first shift at the Luzhniki Stadium which was being demolished and there were seats right on the old field. They were put there after being taken off the stands. I went out onto the field and stood in the very centre – it was an incredible feeling! And though with time this feeling got dimmer, those first days I went to work with a feeling of reverence."
Ramil Sungatulin
Construction worker
"We worked in Kazan and Sochi, we built the Olympic complex. We are used to building, we do what we’re told. If something needs remodeling, we remodel. Luzhniki is a World Cup building. Later on, I’ll be watching TV and thinking that I worked here."
Vladimir Arkatov
Senior construction control engineer
"My main activity, my child – it’s the roof and increasing its area. It was very difficult. It was very stressful; I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights. It’s easier to build a new stadium than redo an old one especially when you also need to keep the historical façade and roof intact. Engineers and project developers had to rack their brains to manage it. Everyone had a lot on their plate."
Marina Bondar
Head of the occupation health and safety department
"My area of responsibility is everything that concerns people’s safety and construction safety regulations. I am responsible for people, for their safety. During the Olympics in 1980 I was eight years old and I still remember Mishka the mascot. That’s why being here and experiencing this as a part of Russian history is, of course, is priceless."
Sergei Stavrov
Construction control engineer
"I’m here since the first cubic meter of concrete so to say. And it is a very significant place for me, I will never forget it. I hope to God my descendants will be proud of the fact that I took an active part in all of this. When my eldest son – he’s three right now – watches TV and sees the stadium, he points at the screen and says "Daddy is there, daddy is there!" I came here to watch football matches, back when CSKA played Spartak. Then came here when the construction works began, went out into the middle of the pitch, where my favorite team played and I heard the roar, the chants. It’s an incredible feeling, there’s nothing like it."
Ruslan Garipov
Finishing works carpenter
"Luzhniki for me is a job. And also a chance to make my small contribution in constructing such a large venue. The Olympic Mishka flew away just when I was born. He went away and I came and now I’m here."
Damir Khairullin
Construction worker
"We are building a stadium here. I chose my profession and I’m very happy with it. And I really like our stadium. This is not my first construction site, it’s difficult but for a man who constantly works it’s not that hard to overcome difficulties. I know my job."
Anastasia Ipatova
Press secretary
"I have been organizing visits to the arena for journalists, delegations, foreign embassies, Moscow residents. Oleg Gazmanov came here once. And recently Basta was shooting his music video on our roof. We were also visited by Lev Leshchenko and Roman Shirokov who then was still our national team’s captain. Almost all big TV channels and international agencies were here and recently we had visitors from Peru. We have a lot of guests here."
Ilgiz Khairutdinov
Deputy general director, head of production management
"Of course, we have felt that with this construction we are changing history. But I’m not afraid of that. Some people are scared to stand on a cliff, but gradually you get used to it. That’s why now there’s not fear. Just responsibility."
Ramis Kamaliev
Interior finisher
"Before I came to Luzhniki, I worked at construction sites for the Universiade in Kazan and for the Sochi Olympics. I like my job – such a scale of work shows straight away how much we contribute. While in Moscow, I already visited the Kremlin and now my brigade and I want to go to the zoo, we haven’t been there yet."
Dinar Khisamov
Construction worker
"I’ve never been to such a big stadium before, even though I love watching football. Now, I’m not such a good player and there’s not much time anyways."
Aleksandr Avilov
Chief specialists of the construction management team
"When we dismantled part of the stairs, we found patriotic inscriptions which are relevant even today: "Worker, don’t squander building materials," "Improve the quality of work", and of course "Peace to the world!" So it will be untrue if I told you that we haven’t touched upon historical events of that generation."
Igor Petrenko
Construction supervision engineer
"This is a colossal project, our homeland’s central stadium. It is a great honor to take part in building an engineering miracle like this. I hope that the time comes when my daughter will understand and appreciate it."
Elvir Gamilullin
Leading engineer in the general construction works sector
"The main part of this reconstruction is the football pitch with all of its drainage, irrigation, heating and watering systems. Luzhniki inspires awe, it’s an important reconstruction, an important construction, it needs to be done using modern technologies and at the same time preserving history."
Roman Smirnov
Leading specialist
"I am the first person to come to this construction site. We completely dismantled the old stadium; we took off the seats, dismantled the field and the frame, then we put in everything new and now I’m waiting for the moment when it will be completely restored. From the very first day, when it all just started, we put a fence around the stadium and began working. There years here, without any breaks or pauses. I hope to bring my children here when we’re done and show them a match, so that they’d understand what exactly I was part of."
Yevgeniy Olkhovik
Chief power engineer
"I’ve been working on this project since January 2014, which means almost from the very beginning. It was a terrible winter, very cold, and we were working on dismantling the building. We needed to turn the electricity off, so that nobody would get electrocuted during the works, when the while building is collapsing, the walls are collapsing. I had to take responsibility for shutting down electrical substations and to give out the order to turn everything off; before that moment nobody had the right to touch the walls."
Milosh Miloshevich
Fine finishing team supervisor
"I love football, in my native Serbia I played for ten years, was a striker. I didn’t continue on playing after that, I couldn’t, but I would have loved to play here at Luzhniki. I’m a fan of Spartak."
Murat Akhmadiev
Head of the construction control department
"I’m working here since December 2013, so I’ve seen what this place was like before the reconstruction and after. I’m happy about this construction, we’ve put our soul into this work."

In 2017 Luzhniki will host its first match
after the reconstruction

Photocredits: Anna Shmitko/Welcome2018.com, Valeriy Sharifulin/ТАSS

Welcome2018.com expresses its gratitude to "Olympic Complex "Luzhniki" OJSC and personally to Anastasia Ipatova and Yeva Grumet for the assistance in this project.