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Moscow as an Architectural Zoo

crystalisland.jpgFrom the FT: A newly resurgent Moscow, fuelled by energy money, is attempting to assert itself on the world stage once again. For the first time since Stalin’s famous Seven Sisters (the gothic/deco skyscrapers commissioned as Communism’s riposte to Manhattan) tall buildings are piercing the city’s skyline in rapid succession. Ground was broken last year on the Moscow Tower, an attenuated pyramid designed by SOM, the US corporate giants, which will stand at 612m, making it the tallest in Europe. Nearby, NBBJ, another US corporate practice, has designed the Imperia Tower that will join the Naberezhnaya Towers in defining the city’s new central business district, an intense and extremely tall cluster of construction that begins to address Moscow’s chronic office shortage. Most astounding of all, however, is Foster & Partner’s recently unveiled proposal for the Crystal Island. A $4bn, 450m high inverted cyclone of a building that spreads from a spiky point into a flower-shaped base and envelops offices, a shopping centre, hotel and entertainment centre, this is one of the strangest of recent proposals, exemplifying the city’s drift towards the model of the architectural zoos of the Gulf. Actually I think we knew that Russia was beginning to throw away its $100 a barrel oil like the Gulf states when we heard they were going to build fake islands in the Black Sea near Sochi. Nothing says resurgent national pride like a multi-billion dollar boondoggle…