This special lecture of Penn’s Humanities, Urbanism, and Design Initiative (H=U+D) featured Basile Baudez, Maitres de conferences, University of Paris-Sorbonne. Founded in 1703 on the Neva river delta to provide Russia with a port to serve its Baltic ambitions, Saint-Petersburg was aggressive in its bid to be read as a modern, European capital. The first prints representing the city adopted a panoramic format that focused on the Neva, its sublime width, and the magnificent new façades erected along its shores. Visitors understood the river landscape, however, as an insurmountable obstacle to proper urban development. For them, the Neva conveyed the hostility of nature, while the buildings, forever to be seen from too great a distance, appeared unreal, ready to vanish into the flat horizon. Baudez explored the connection between humanities, urbanism, and design exhibited in the architecture of Saint-Petersburg along the Neva River.