At first, the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences was located in the house of P. P. Shafirov on City Island, as well as in neighboring buildings: the former house of Count Zotov, where the academic office was located, and the house of Prince Gagarin, since 1728 – on Vasilyevsky Island, in the building of the Kunstkamera and the palace of Tsaritsa Praskovya Feodorovna standing nearby. The building of the Kunstkamera became from the beginning of the 18th century symbol of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
In 1783-1789, the architect G. Quarenghi built a new building for the Academy at 5, Universitetskaya Embankment. Now this building is an architectural monument of strict classicism, a link in the ensemble of the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island and Universitetskaya Embankment. It housed academic stores (warehouses), a bookshop and employees’ apartments.
The main facade of the three-storey rectangular building faces the Bolshaya Neva.