Moscow's mayor attacks Foster's high-rise plan
Friday 20 October 2006
A grandiose plan by Norman Foster to erect a high-rise hotel development in central Moscow has been heavily criticised by the city's authorities who fear it will look far too tall next to the neighbouring Kremlin and central Moscow's medieval churches.
To compound the architect's discomfort, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov also accused Lord Foster of designing an incongruous oval-shaped concert hall for the Russian capital that he pejoratively likened to London's Albert Hall and suggested should be completely redesigned.
Mr Luzhkov told Lord Foster at a meeting in Moscow to go back to the drawing board. The powerful mayor leavened criticism with praise and gave his conditional blessing for Lord Foster to go ahead with both projects. But he made it clear that his blessing could be withdrawn if radical changes are not made.
Both the hotel and the concert hall are slated to be built on a 13-acre riverside plot which is a stone's throw from the Kremlin and used to be home to the hulking Soviet-era Hotel Rossiya which is in the process of being demolished.
The condemned hotel, once the world's largest, was regarded by many Muscovites and visitors as a hideous eyesore and the idea was to resurrect the 19-century district that preceded it.
Moscow's city fathers want the 3,000-room hotel replaced with a sprawling multifunctional development complete with new hotels, offices, shops and cafés, subterranean parking space for 2,000 cars, a concert hall, cinemas, a huge public square and a terminal for boats on the adjacent river Moskva.
The tender for the project was won by ST Development, a company controlled by a wealthy Russian with close ties to Mr Luzhkov. It won the bid in 2004 by submitting an artist's impression of the finished site which charmed the mayor. It was drawn up by Russian architects and showed pastel-coloured recreations of 18th- and 19th-century Moscow mansions so as not to jar with the Kremlin.
But since Lord Foster was brought in the design has changed radically.
The height of the buildings, of which there will be 10 or 11, appears to have shot up from a planned six storeys to nine or even 10 levels. Plans to recreate the area's main 19th-century street have been dropped altogether as "impractical" and a major cultural element has been added with a museum and more concert halls than first planned.
Russian architects have said the design has become "hi-tech" with some questioning whether it is suitable for such a sacred site.
Mr Luzhkov, the man who has to sign off on the project, has been the most outspoken critic though. He said that Lord Foster's idea of an oval-shaped concert hall was just not right.
"Maybe I've really got too old," said the mayor who recently turned 70, "but it's just not Moscow. "There's nothing like this anywhere else in central Moscow. It's more like the Albert Hall."
He said the proposed height of the development was "really, really not right". "The churches... look like toys [in comparison to the hotel]. The balance of heights and proportions needs to be different."
Lord Foster's office said there were always "negotiations" when it came to architectural plans.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 3 How much sex should I be having?
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
Russian military jets and US destroyer clash in Black Sea 'posing danger to stability'
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Photographer who performed naked shoot in China's Forbidden City sparks outrage
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...