In November 2008, Russian news agency Interfax reported that the project had been halted due to the credit crunch. Developer, Russia Land, could no longer afford to continue with the project, having failed to raise the estimated $2billion necessary. Subsequent attempts to raise revenue from oil company Sibir Energy were met with a conflict of interest clause in December due to Russia Land’s Head, Shalva Chigirinsky, holding a large amount of shares in the company. Come February the project was looking to be on very shaky ground when the Mayor of Russia let slip that the project would likely be delayed by four years and, despite the financial crisis, threatened fines as a result of delays.
Having broken ground in September 2007, the project should have been well under way, its initial completion set for 2012. But with little progress, rumours from Russian press are that the land could now be used as a car park. A spokesperson for Foster + Partners, however, said that they can have little comment at the moment as, 'we have not had confirmation of the project's outcome, the client is looking into a number of options for the site'.
Despite the apparent uncertainty over the future of the tower, sources from within Russia cast doubt over any admiration for the project. "Concerning the Russia Tower's reduction I see not much sorrow around," said Professor Eugene Asse of the Moscow Institute of Architecture. "I was pretty sceptical about this project from the very beginning, as well, it must be said, as the entire concept of the Moscow City development. I find it like a kind of tumor on the urban body of Moscow. From my office window this construction site is perfectly seen, so I can watch the progress and it looks more and more ugly.
"It would dominate over Moscow skyline as a terrible symbol of bureaucracy, national complexes, the Mayor's ambitions and high prices of oil. Since I hate all these symbolic issues I'm really happy that it will never be built. Construction of the parking garage instead of the highest tower in Europe is also a rather symbolic action which demonstrates modest victory of the common sense over senseless pathos."
The recent rumours act in addition to a string of recently collapsed projects by prestigious architects in a trend towards a more frugal approach to city design.
Niki May Young