There's something a little absurd about this building, which rears up so unexpectedly on the corner of Malaya Morskaya and Nevsky prospekt, within spitting distance of the Winter Palace.
This is impressive architecture, of course, but what is it doing here? The Italian stylization ‒ the two-tiered arcade of the first two storeys, a feature which immediately won the building the sobriquet 'Palazzo of the Doges'; the Early-Renaissance upper three storeys, the late-Renaissance character of the corner façade, even the very medieval-Italian feel of the stonework ‒ is too convincing for its own good, making no concessions to either age or place. Nevsky is no stranger to Classical architecture, but this is Classical architecture of the wrong sort. It does not acknowledge its surroundings. It makes no attempt to fit in. It lacks Petersburgian restraint. It calls out for surrounding space that is organized in a different way. Not for a broad avenue speeding off into the distance, but for a hilltop piazza overlooking a tangle of narrow medieval streets.
In his loving recreation of a Renaissance palazzo Marian Peretyatkovich seems to have tried too hard. His efforts were not sufficiently appreciated. When the new building was inspected for the first time by its owner, the banker Mikhail Ippolitovich Vavelberg, a man of much money and few words, had only one comment to make. It concerned the sign on the front door. "'Push [away from oneself]'," he said. "That's not my principle. Change it to: 'Grab [towards oneself]'."
Nevsky 7-9 originally accommodated a bank, a substantial apartment for Vavelberg, and a manufactory making geodesic instruments.