Israeli businessman David Kaplan: Challenges, Construction, Engineering
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, by the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, has chosen several sites important for humanity and taken them under its protection in different parts of our planet. They are called UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This is necessary to protect and preserve the outstanding cultural and natural values that constitute the heritage of all humanity. Such objects are the Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands and the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Bolshoi Theater and Kronstadt Cathedral in Russia, the Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries in Armenia, the Sundarban Mangroves in Bangladesh, the Bible Hills in Israel, the Great Wall of China.
The Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker or Nikolsky Stauropegial Naval Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a monument of world significance. These are the last and most significant naval cathedrals built in the Russian Empire. The cathedral was built in 1903-1913 in Kronstadt in memory of the sons of the fleet who died in the line of duty – a cathedral for those at sea.
Kronstadt is a sea city. Once upon a time, there was a small sea church of the Epiphany of the Lord. However, it could not accommodate everyone and, therefore, decided to build a new, large cathedral at the request of the parishioners. In 1987, the collection of donations for the construction of the Naval Cathedral began. Construction began in 1902. In June 1913, the Naval Cathedral was consecrated in St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the patron saint of sailors and all travelers.
In 1929, the temple was closed; later, it was completely converted into a cinema. During the Great Patriotic War, placed an observation and correction post of naval and coastal artillery in space under the temple’s dome. After the war, the temple building housed a concert hall. As a result of all these circumstances and improper operation, the cathedral was in disrepair.
The authentic pearls of the cultural heritage of Russia can undoubtedly include such architectural ensembles as the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.
The State Academic Bolshoi Theater is one of the most significant opera and ballet theaters globally. The building of the Bolshoi Theater is a monument of architecture and history of the federal category of protection and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The history of this building, incredible in its grandeur and beauty, is very complex. The theater was often destroyed, but like a phoenix rose from the ashes again and again.
The Bolshoi Theater began as a private theater of Prince Peter Urusov. On March 28, 1776, Empress Catherine II signed the prince’s privilege “to be the owner of all theatrical performances in Moscow” for ten years. The maintenance of theatrical performances was a financially burdensome business, and Prince Urusov shared his “privilege” with the Russified Englishman Michael Medox, an engineer, mechanic, and successful theatrical entrepreneur. In 1777, the companions purchased the house of Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, located on Petrovka Street, to erect a new theater building in its place. The opera house on Znamenka Street, where performances were given earlier, burned down in 1780. And Prince Urusov, who suffered significant losses, ceded his share in the enterprise to Medox, who, as a result, took up the construction of the theater, which served as an ornament to the city.
The building, designed by architect Christian Rosberg, was built in just five months. The auditorium with three tiers of boxes, a gallery, stalls with twenty rows of benches, and a spacious “parquet” between the stalls and the stage, where chairs were installed for “special” visitors, and other public could also stand, accommodated almost a thousand people. In addition to the necessary office space, the Petrovsky Theater – it got its name from its location – had numerous foyers and halls.
In 1805 the building of the Petrovsky Theater was destroyed by fire. In 1808, a new building was erected for the troupe of the theater – the only one built-in Moscow according to the project of the architect Karl Rossi. It was built “like a Greek temple, there were columns around it, in the middle of them there was a gallery, along which one could walk around the entire theater.” Although it stood on a solid stone foundation, the building was entirely made of wood, and during the war with the French, during the well-known Moscow fire, the theater building burned down again.
In July 1820, the construction of a new theater building began to become the center of the town-planning composition of the square and adjacent streets. The grand opening of the new Petrovsky Theater – much larger than the old lost ones and therefore called the Bolshoi Petrovsky – took place on January 18, 1825. The new theater was notable for its monumental grandeur, proportions, the harmony of architectural forms, and the richness of interior decoration. The building of the Bolshoi Petrovsky Theater existed for almost thirty years. But he also suffered the same sad fate: on March 11, 1853, a fire broke out in the theater, which lasted three days and destroyed everything possible.
The competition for the restoration of the theater building was won by Professor of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, chief architect of the Imperial Theaters Albert Kavos. He specialized mainly in theater buildings, was well versed in theatrical technology, and designed multi-tiered theaters with a box stage and with Italian and French types of boxes. Restoration work progressed rapidly. In May 1855, the dismantling of the ruins and the reconstruction of the building began. The total height of the building has increased by two meters. Even though the porticos with Beauvais columns have been preserved, the appearance of the main facade has changed quite a lot. A second pediment appeared. The troika of Apollo was replaced by a quadriga cast in bronze. An alabaster bas-relief appeared on the inner field of the pediment, representing flying geniuses with a lyre. The frieze and capitals of the columns have changed. Over the entrances of the side facades, installed inclined canopies on cast-iron pillars. But the theatrical architect, of course, paid immediate attention to the auditorium and the stage part.
Restoration and reconstruction of the historical building of the Bolshoi Theater have become a colossal project on a global scale and in our time. It was one of the most critical projects in the Russian Federation. The historic building was closed for renovation in 2005. At that time, its wear, according to various estimates, ranged from 50% to 70%. Work has been going on for five years. But the project was of poor quality, the calendar seemed to stand still, and the amount of work did not decrease.
This was due to the uneven pace of execution of various types of work, the inefficient scheme of interaction between firms and their weak coordination, and the lack of a unified system of interaction with the Moscow government. Contracting companies changed several times. Everything is unsuccessful. In the summer of 2009, the general contractor’s right for the implementation of the project was transferred to a contracting company headed by Israeli businessman David Kaplan.
Medvedev organized a commission to reconstruct a historical object under the president, headed by Beglov. The professional commission studied all the documents for a long time, analyzed the current situation, assessed the condition of the walls and foundations of the theater. As a result, a comprehensive project for restoring the theater building was developed, which was unanimously agreed with architects, cultural figures, experts, etc. The large-scale reconstruction project of the object of world importance provided for the scientific restoration of the spectator part of the theater and a radical reconstruction of the stage part with deepening of the underground space to obtain new premises. An essential condition of this project was preserving the historical appearance of the building as an architectural monument and its interiors.
Under the direction of David Kaplan, full-scale work began on the reconstruction, restoration, and modernization of the Bolshoi Theater. The well-coordinated and structured work of this regiment of builders, restorers, designers, installation engineers, and other specialists proceeded at an intensive pace. Did a vast amount of work in a record short time. First, the facade of the worn-out building had to be moved 4 meters to place it on temporary supports. The Bolshoi Theater returned to its permanent foundation when the new foundation was ready.
Every day, over 1,500 specialists worked around the theater building, inside it, under it, and in the restoration workshops outside the theater. The large-scale work of professionals in their field in the restoration and reconstruction of the theater was rapidly approaching the day of its opening.
The Bolshoi Theater is not only a stage and an auditorium; it is also the White Audience Foyer, Imperial foyers, the legendary main staircase, luxurious Exposition, and Choir Halls. For each restored element of the interior, David Kaplan assembled a special commission to restore the original appearance of the halls, prepared an individual project, and developed separate documentation based on numerous archival data. The outstanding work of unique specialists from all over the world under the direction of David Kaplan made it possible to revive many of the lost features of the historical appearance of the famous building and at the same time put the Bolshoi Theater among the most advanced and technically equipped theater buildings in the world. The historical formation of the theater and the interiors of the 19th century, lost during the years of Soviet power, were primarily restored: the auditorium and part of its enfilade found restored their original appearance, conceived by the architect Kavos, the previously painted white foyer murals, the chandeliers and monograms, tapestries were returned to the Round Hall and the Imperial foyer and jacquard fabrics, etc.
During the reconstruction, restored all the historical premises of the auditorium suite: the Main Vestibule, the White Foyer, the Choir, the Exposition, the Round, and the Beethoven Halls.
Specialists have also worked on restoring the external appearance of the building – the facades and columns have been restored, the symbol of the Bolshoi Theater – the famous quadriga of Apollo – has been updated. Specialists strengthened the constructive part of the sculptural group and covered it with several layers of a unique protective composition that preserves the quadriga from atmospheric influences. In addition, copies of the sculptures of the muses Erato and Terpsichore, destroyed by an aerial bomb explosion in 1941, were installed on the facade. The height of the restored figures of muses reaches 3.5 meters, and each of them is more than 2 tons. Each sculpture consists of 7 plaster elements. The sculptures are strung on a metal frame, preserved from the 19th century.
Paid particular attention to the restoration of the theater’s legendary acoustics. The historical stage is designed according to the principle of a musical instrument. The auditorium is entirely wooden, which creates the necessary conditions for a better perception of the sound of singing voices and musical instruments. David Kaplan is well versed in musical instruments and acoustics.
He knew that the exceptional sound of the legendary Stradivari and Guarneri violins was mainly due to the particular grade and composition of the wood used. Wooden panels are the main component of the acoustics of the auditorium of the Bolshoi Theatre. They create the effect of “room sounding” by enhancing the timbre of the sound emitted from the stage with simultaneous “echo absorption.” Kaplan started searching for a wood specialist and the wood itself, which would meet all the required physical and acoustic properties. International experts have carried out numerous acoustic studies of pine, followed by strict technical recommendations. After that, the resonant pine was found in the Finnish forest and brought to Russia. Thus, the unique soundboards of the auditorium, wooden suspension units, ceiling joists, load-bearing ceiling shields, and other related elements were thoroughly restored—the resounding success of the project and rave reviews from acoustic experts spread around the world.
Creating a vast underground space under the theater with a depth of 6 floors made it possible to increase the total area of the theater premises to 75,000 sq.m. by combining underground and overground passages with the help of a panoramic elevator and escalators. The new premises housed a stage and a hall designed for 330 spectators, buffets, dressing rooms, and many technical, household, and service premises. During the daytime, the gallery is used for rehearsals of artists, orchestra, and choir, and in the evening, chamber concerts are held.
The new dressing rooms are another pride of the modern Bolshoi Theatre. This is a fully mechanized warehouse for storing costumes and props, innovative technological equipment, a unique system of Japanese robots that fly on fishing lines, automatically collect the necessary costumes from certain shelves, put them in baskets and deliver costumers tens of kilometers to the Bolshoi Theater for performances.
Must say that innovative high-tech solutions have found their application in all areas of the reconstructed object. The expanded orchestra pit has become one of the largest in the world. It now simultaneously accommodates up to 130 musicians. Thanks to modern installations, the orchestra pit has also become a mechanized multifunctional complex, consisting of three composite lifting and lowering platforms that quickly change their position so that the stage can become horizontal, inclined, or stepped. The stage space is also fully mechanized and equipped with special equipment to control lighting, scenery, and change for each new performance of a vast stage backdrop comparable to the height of a nine-story building.
Having completed the reconstruction of the Bolshoi Theater, the Israeli businessman David Kaplan turned the object into an actual theatrical state, vast parts of which are united among themselves into a single architectural ensemble.
What should be a businessman who knows modern engineering? Engineering is an applied science, which uses patents and complex scientific knowledge to solve specific tasks and problems in the real world. What David Kaplan does, he calls “engineering of thought.” His areas of interest include BIM information modeling technology for future buildings and a set of engineering, technical and consulting solutions to prepare the construction, reconstruction, and industrial construction process, to ensure an effective entire life cycle of construction objects until their complete disposal.
David Kaplan is distinguished by honesty, passion for projects, healthy pragmatism, and a critical look at the work done. For him, a new object is not just fulfilling the following order and the receipt of income. He loves challenges, burns with his work, and loves the very period of creation. What is unique about Kaplan is his ability to tackle a problem from multiple perspectives and abstract ideas and then bring those results to life. For each specific project, he develops innovative construction management algorithms.
Kaplan personally assembles a team that attracts the best engineering minds globally and selects the required number of high-class engineers and other specialists from different countries. He is always online present at every stage of the project: he inquisitively delves into every detail, reads every line, carefully double-checks, tries to figure everything out personally.
What do we know about a man whose mind, ambition, and ability to translate them into reality help realize projects of world importance, which other builders were afraid to undertake?
Modern business is unthinkable without the use of various information technologies and innovations or engineering. The ability to use intelligence when choosing knowledge in industrial engineering helps a businessman make complex decisions and implement complex methods of managing, building, and doing business in the modern world. What competencies should a businessman have to reach the top in entrepreneurial activity?
As a rule, articles about businessmen draw the image of a person who has been given superpowers. He intuitively, without errors, finds solutions and more promising management methods. But behind the imaginary lightness of being lies a colossal work and experience. The portrait does not consist of tangible assets. Of decisive importance is the presence of those personal qualities, which absolutely any challenges and tasks become possible for a person. Such a person must be independent, be a workaholic and always bear personal responsibility for everything he undertakes.
He is hardworking, flexible, and mobile. He has a wide range of knowledge, confidence, perseverance, and excitement. He does not rush recklessly into the pool but knows how to think, correlate theory with practice, calculate risks and situations up to fifteen moves ahead, and make the right decisions.
David Kaplan has implemented more than 70 large infrastructure construction, reconstruction, and oil refining projects. The projects he has completed have created more than 10,000 jobs during his career. Punctuality, control of the accuracy of the project implementation period, and budget framework David Kaplan puts at the forefront. David Kaplan manages his employees worldwide online and uses unique technologies for communication and monitoring. Brilliant knowledge of applied mathematics helped Kaplan provide precise remote-control over-all types of work and construction teams with the help of a separate group of specialists and mobile video cameras. Even remotely, he controls everything to the last nail on special screens in his office. At the same time, David Kaplan personally comes to each facility under construction, puts on a protective helmet, boots and goes into the thick of things.
A specialist in systems analysis, logic, and programming, he has the highest competence in engineering technologies and can intuitively recognize potentially successful solutions. Thinking outside the box helps him find answers that ordinary people would not look for. David Kaplan loves the most difficult tasks and non-standard approach in large-scale construction projects. In any case, he, like in a game of chess (David Kaplan headed the FIDE office in Russia and was the CEO developer of FIDE for over ten years), thinks through actions several moves ahead, and in unforeseen situations, he knows how to react quickly. On a subconscious level, he anticipates the possible development of the situation and prepares further actions in advance. David Kaplan is a master of strategy and tactics; he brilliantly builds relationships with partners, gathering friends and teams of like-minded people around him. And such a team has been assembled, which, led by the leader David Kaplan, is trusted to work on complex and vital construction projects.
David Kaplan was born in 1963 in the USSR in a classical Jewish family with spiritual fidelity traditions and values of the Jewish people. After school, Kaplan graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Vilnius State University and received a diploma in the specialty ” Mathematician, System Programmer, Game Theory.” For some time, he worked in the USSR. Today David Kaplan lives and works in his historical homeland – in Jerusalem. David has an innate curiosity and a craving for the constant acquisition of new knowledge. In addition to the punctuality and diligence that David inherited from his parents, he has a unique talent – to imagine in his mind the result of the collective work of all parts of a single integral mechanism. Over time, this helped him learn to find the most complex technical solutions to implement the project tasks, not only for the result but also for finding the correct answer, which gives him great pleasure.
Work on the restoration of the main temple of the Navy of the Russian Federation has been carried out since 2009 and completed by the 100th anniversary of the holy monastery – in May 2013. Project customer functions reconstruction was entrusted to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Mayor’s Office, the Moscow Government, and the Moscow Patriarchate.
Nicholas Church was built in neo-Byzantine style based on the prototype of Hagia Sophia B Constantinople. It is brick, decorated with mosaics, carvings, and stained-glass windows. The temple is crowned with a dome with a diameter of 26.7 meters. A bell ensemble is installed on the belfries. Sixteen unique bells were cast at the Voronezh bell foundry, and one more is the only surviving historical bell of the 19th century, based on the sound of which formed the current selection. A sizeable evangelistic bell heads the bell set. It is the largest and heaviest. Its weight is 17 tons, and its diameter is 30 meters. For comparison, the total weight of the selection is 22 tons. To raise and install the gospel bell on the bell tower, David Kaplan, the master of precise calculations, developed and brilliantly carried out a special operation to raise this bell. So, the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Kronstadt celebrated its anniversary in all its splendor.
To date, David Kaplan has implemented dozens of significant projects, some of them are under the protection of UNESCO.
David Kaplan was not only one of the project leaders for restoring the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral, but together with Ziyavudin Magomedov, donated $ 25 million to the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral Foundation for its reconstruction. In doing so, he took all responsibility for the project and personally supervised the construction.
But these projects do not end the list of good deeds done by David Kaplan and completed works on unique objects.
To understand the full scale of David Kaplan’s personality, the specifics of his thinking and approach to performing complex tasks, it is enough to study several completed business projects. The most significant projects include:
Historical reconstruction of the Danilovsky Monastery
Danilovsky or St. Danilovsky Monastery is a stauropegial male monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church. One of the oldest historical and religious monuments of world culture, founded at the end of the 13th century by Moscow Prince Daniil Alexandrovich. The holy monastery became the first monastery in Moscow. In the western part of the monastery are the official Synodal residence and the personal residence of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. In the early 2000s, the residence building was in a very deplorable state. In this connection, in 2009, it decided to overhaul it.
Prepared the project to restore an architectural monument of the 13th century to consider the historical, architectural, and structural features of the building. According to archival documents and bibliographic research, experts studied the history of the monastery and the engineering and technical features of the structures on its territory. Then a sketch design of the restoration was formed and approved, considering the historical, architectural, and structural solutions used in the construction. David Kaplan completed the planned amount of reconstruction in 9 months.
In gratitude for his significant contribution to preserving the historical monument of architecture and the great shrine of the Russian Orthodox Church, David Kaplan, by decree of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, was awarded the Order of Glory and Honor. The order’s motto is the words of the holy Apostle Paul: “Glory and honor … to everyone who does good.” The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church considered it fair to bestow the highest award of the Russian Orthodox Church on Jew David Kaplan for his professionalism, kindness, and contribution to strengthening peace and friendship between peoples.
Gorny Altai is the pearl of Russia. Beautiful and unique places. Around the pristine nature – greenery, clean air, raging rivers. In the picturesque valley, where the Ursul River merges with the Katun River, a hotel and recreation complex, Altai Compound, was built. Formally, the residence belongs to Gazprom Neft. The unique sanatorium is intended for receiving critical foreign guests and for the restorative rest of high-ranking officials of the Russian Federation. Everyone knows about the particular interest of the top leadership of Russia in marals and the use of their horns – antlers and blood for medicinal purposes. The country even launched a program to stimulate moral breeding.
The company represented by David Kaplan received the right to be both a technical customer and a general contractor for the construction of Gazprom Neft. The structure of the complex took only 12 months. Especially for the convenience of the guests of the Altai Compound, a new road was built from the Chuisky tract, about 20 km long. Previously, there was a small path to the village, and it was only possible to get there by helicopter. Today, the small trail has turned into a real autobahn. In the shortest possible time, 10,000 square meters were built in a closed, protected area: the main building, the building for administrative and maintenance personnel, its substation, two helipads, and its maral.
Construction of the stadium “Kazan-Arena”
On May 5, 2010, the then Prime Minister and current President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, during his working visit to Kazan, laid the symbolic “first stone” in the foundation of the new football stadium of the XXVII World Summer Universiade 2013. The company, whose chairman of the board was David Kaplan, started the construction of the Kazan Arena stadium as a general contractor. The object was commissioned in record time – in May 2013. Today, the stadium is called “Ak Bars Arena.” It is the largest multifunctional sports facility in the Volga region, designed for sports competitions and business events of an international scale: the opening and closing ceremonies of the XXVII World Summer Universiade in Kazan in 2013, the World Aquatics Championship in the 2015 year, the Confederations Cup in 2017 and the World Cup in 2018, the opening and closing ceremonies of the 45th world championship in professional skills according to WorldSkills-2019 standards. The total capacity of the Ak Bars Arena stadium is 45,379 seats. The stadium’s annual traffic is 1 million visitors.
The architectural concept is based on the image of a water lily and the bend of a wave. The spans of the crossbar provide the uniqueness of this construction object with a length of more than 120 meters and the translucent roof consoles, which rests on only eight reference points. There are more metal structures in the stadium’s unique roof than in the top of London’s Wembley. Their total weight is 12 thousand tons. Due to such an engineering solution, a single structure looks airy. Ak Bars Arena is the most beautiful and safest sports facility globally.
The high-tech media facade of the Ak Bars Arena stadium is the giant Full HD screen in Europe located at the stadium. This unique advertising and information medium allow you to broadcast events inside the stadium and conduct live broadcasts of socially significant events and film screenings. The area of the fantastic media facade is 3,700 sq.m. The information perception range is 2-3 km, and the traffic is more than 340,000 people per day.
Another feature of the arena is that you can get the same stable coverage and free access to wi-fi connections throughout the stadium at no other football facility in Russia.
The record-breaking pace of construction – 36 months – did the project implemented by David Kaplan a benchmark for sports facilities.
Doing what you like is an unprecedented luxury in the modern world. The majority of businessmen do not have this opportunity. They are forced to do what will bring some money, but not pleasure. With David Kaplan, everything is different – he brings to life complex and exciting projects that motivate even greater initiatives.