MINSK (BY) - Although the project to build a new National Library of Belarus predates the current government, the building's completion has long had clear political overtones. The building schedule has been accelerating ever since construction started in 2002, and the latest completion date is set for this spring (just in time for the presidential elections, which are expected to keep the present-day head of state in power for yet another term). What appeared on renderings as a translucent design (see A10 #1) has taken on a more massive form that towers above the environs.
Of greater concern is the quality of the structural engineering. The site's weak soil has already necessitated the construction of a side tower to reinforce the diamond-shaped hulk of the library. But the rushed tempo of construction has further strained the structure. Cracks have started to appear in some of the interior partitions, although engineers have been assuring the public that none of the load-bearing elements are threatened and that the fractures will be easily mended as building materials harden.