Saint Jacob Hospital area redevelopment project, Source: DO Architects

Abandoned historic area in Vilnius up for EUR 45 million makeover

Abandoned historic area in Vilnius up for EUR 45 million makeover

The project was halted in 2018 and redrawn, taking into account comments by architects, heritage experts and the public

On a second try, the derelict Saint Jacob Hospital and the surrounding area bordering Lukiškės Square in central Vilnius will receive a long-awaited makeover. The redevelopment project, worth EUR 45 million, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

Public discontent

The initial project, presented in March 2018, was terminated following a public outcry over some of the architectural solutions. In 2019, DO Architects won a new tender to redevelop the area.

“The current architectural project will maintain respect for the nearby heritage sites and will allow the revitalised area to be integrated with the central part of the city,” Mindaugas Pakalnis, chief architect of Vilnius, explained in the municipal press-release. 

“Solutions to the architectural vision, which has changed radically from the one presented three years ago, were sought not through long and often unproductive court disputes, but through intensive and meaningful discussions with the Lithuanian Architects' Union and heritage specialists. The new project meets the expectations of the public and ensures a better harmony with the adjacent historic buildings,” commented Vidmantas Bezaras, the director of the Department of Cultural Heritage (CRD).

Respect for heritage buildings  

The renovated area will include the St Apostles Philip and Jacob Church, the Dominican monastery, both of which will remain untouched and protected, an educational institution that will be housed in the former Saint Jacob Hospital buildings, a public garden where carillon music concerts will be held, as well as a newly built four-star Clarion hotel with a conference centre. The first floor of the hotel will offer spaces for commercial outlets such as shops, bookstores, and cafes.  

A two-way bicycle lane will be built along J. Tumo-Vaižganto Street, connecting the White Bridge with Lukiškės Square, and a new pedestrian path will command views of the revamped historic complex.

Listening to community opinion

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius praised the project developers who had listened to the remarks of city communities and institutions, and started everything from scratch, finding a sustainable solution.

“The smooth combination of cultural heritage and urban development is a challenge that opens up the potential of the city’s historic sites. This project is an example of how, by taking the time to have an in-depth discussion with the community, institutions can achieve a breakthrough in areas that have been languishing for many years,” said Šimašius, quoted by the city website.

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