Riga: Central Market



September 2, 2014

To:  Jeff Z. and Bob A.

cc: Family and Friends

Since you are both engineers with a specialty, respectively, in transportation and geotechnical engineering, I thought you would appreciate the structures of the Riga Central Market.  The market is the largest in Europe and lies across the Daugava River from the Old Town of Riga.

The market of course is dotted with outdoor stalls that display towering piles of fruit, vegetables, flowers, recently picked mushrooms, and consumer products.  Everything from bananas to berries to boxer shorts to bras is on offer.

Adjacent to the outdoor market, each of five steel, glass, reinforced concrete pavilions sells its own special product.  One market building houses the stalls of fish mongers.  In another building, meat is the product.   The “humongous” buildings are tall and wide and bright.   I stopped at the fish market for a lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese sandwich.  Actually I had two!  Less than a buck each.

Together with Riga Old Town, the entire market territory is included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  The pavilions themselves incorporate Neoclassicism and Art Deco styles.

The roof structures of the pavilions are of particular interest.   In a flash of creativity in 1924, the prize-winning architects decided to remove the steel frames from another location and place them atop the new concrete pavilion walls.

The question for you is, “What in the world was the original purpose of the enormous steel frame roof?   What was housed beneath its girders and glass?”

Hint.  Think: Germany, World War I.

Big Hint. Think: Aviation.

When you decide on your answer, check out the Wikipedia article for additional and dramatic statistics regarding the Riga Central Market.

Also check out my photos.  Aren’t those pastries sooooo tempting?


PS  For further reading on the subject of aviation, I recommend The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed by John McPhee, one of my favorite non-fiction writers.