Foster's Russian skyscraper laid low by crisis

Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:57am EST
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By Yuliya Komleva and Maria Plis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Construction of Russia Tower, a 6OO-meter (1,970 foot) steel and glass symbol of new Russian wealth and power designed by Norman Foster to be Europe's tallest building, has been halted for lack of funding, its developer said on Friday.

"Say thanks to Alan Greenspan and George Bush," Russian oil and real estate magnate Shalva Chigirinsky told Reuters.

The end of the era of cheap global credit orchestrated by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has hit Russia's developers hard, and many have frozen all but a few key projects.

Chigirinsky's comments appeared to take Foster's London-based firm by surprise.

"The project isn't on hold as far as we are concerned," a spokeswoman said in an emailed comment to Reuters.

Russia Tower was to crown Moscow City, Russia's answer to London's Canary Wharf or La Defense in Paris, which rises from an old industrial site between a highway, a railway and the Moscow River, surrounded by cargo yards and Soviet apartment blocks.

Chigirinsky enlisted Foster, architect of the London Swiss Re building popularly known as the Gherkin, as he was garnering a huge following in the former Soviet Union.

Foster + Partners' website describes it as the tallest naturally ventilated tower in the world, with 118 occupied floors, and one of the greenest new buildings in Europe. It calls the project an "investigation into the nature of the tall building" like Foster's Tokyo Millennium Tower.   Continued...