The World Cup begins today, with Russia playing Saudi Arabia in Moscow for the opening match. 32 countries will be competing in the tournament, which concludes on July 15th.

The Russian Federation is hosting matches in 12 stadiums across the country. One of the last stadiums to be readied for the World Cup is the Yekaterinburg Arena, which was originally constructed in 1957, during the Soviet heyday.

A protected cultural monument, the stadium seated 23,000 people, falling about 12,000 seats short of FIFA’s requirements. So in 2014, chief architect Oleg Gak was tasked with rebuilding the arena to meet the World Cup requirements. There was one caveat, he had to do so, while preserving the arena’s unique Soviet architecture.

“FIFA wanted specific kinds of stands that could hold 35,000 people” said Gak.” So the new stadium was built around the old protected walls.”

Gak’s team decided to open the stadium's perimeter and build temporary grandstands. The expanded seating puts approximately 12,000 fans outside the stadium walls -- but their view of the field should be uncompromised.

“We as designers made plans for the future, assuming the grandstands would go away, and the facade would be closed off” says Gak.

The Yekaterinburg arena will host its first match, Egypt versus Uruguay, on June 15 at 17:00 local time.

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