The Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg is one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the Russian Federation. Together with the adjacent Theatre Square and Conservatory, it creates an ensemble of 19th and 21st century cultural buildings in the city centre. The technical and organisational complexity of the new theatre is so vast and diverse that much of the building is not in need of one archetypal form. Rather it likens itself to a cityscape; To extend the 19th century iconic building, Erick van Egeraat proposed a design that is decidedly contemporary, but does not compete with the existing building and respects the architectural identity of the city. The extension makes a reference to the St. Petersburg city block which is typically made up of series of individual volumes, each with a distinctive character and appearance and precisely defined in terms of movement and height. The building is clad in a range of materials, mainly stucco, brass and natural stone. To scale down the usually massive appearance of the fly tower, it is designed as part of a series of high volumes, each with their own program. They appear to envelope an open air performance area on the rooftop.