Working hard, and apparently playing hard in Moscow too:
"On Saturday night of June 23  residents of Moscow City area were intrigued by a group of young people partying at the Federation Tower. Dance music was heard, and break-dancers performed right in the street, and more and more people were coming."
"That was the beginning of the Street Challenge competition, which became a major event of our corporate life. The organizers -- the Council of Young Specialists and MGSU students -- brought together a hundred of Mirax Group staff, who divided into 29 teams and rushed along the night city streets to display quick wit and resource and win the Cup."
"The tasks were different -- from epatage, for example, to take a picture of a young man in a skirt at the entrance to the army recruitment center, to mathematical problems. During the game they had to communicate with unsmiling guides, faked policemen, and angry vendors and make them render assistance or least stay out of the way. It was not easy to distinguish between ordinary passers-by and masked organizers not to put a foot into it."
Click on the extended post to read more about the developers building the the most visible addition to Moscow's skyline.
The Federation Tower in a model of the Moscow City financial district
Manhattan on the Moskva
by Brett Forrest
The New York Times
September 10, 2006
Sergei Polonsky was short 900 tons of concrete, and he wasn't interested in excuses. It was a sweaty July morning at a construction site just outside central Moscow, and several contractors were arguing over whom to blame. The air-conditioned office overlooked hard-hatted workers scrambling through the dust several stories below, cranes swinging into position high above their heads.
A Russian real estate developer, Polonsky is building Moscow's first genuine modern skyscraper, the Federation Tower. When it reaches its full height, perhaps as early as next year, and at a cost of some $740 million, the tower will be the tallest building in Europe. It forms the centerpiece of Moscow City, a sprawling financial district that will inject a new modern character into this ancient, frenetic city.
From across the meeting table, Polonsky focused on the deputy director of his company's concrete division, a middle-aged man with white hair and reading glasses that hung off the tip of his nose. The entire inner structure of the Federation Tower is composed of concrete, so the shortfall presented no small jam. "You have three days to solve this problem," Polonsky told him, "or you can submit your resignation."
Polonsky is 6-foot-6 and has a head of curly sandy hair that assumes various odd shapes depending on the humidity. His smooth rounded face makes him seem approachable. But in this notoriously tough town, no one achieves Polonsky's success by being everybody's best friend, least of all someone who is, like him, just 33.
Following the meeting with the contractors, Polonsky and Artur Aleksandrov, the project's perpetually hassled chief of construction, grabbed their hard hats and headed out for an inspection walk of the looming tower, already 50 stories high. The Federation Tower is not the only building making visible progress around Moscow City. Several office complexes rise into the air in various states of completion in what many Russians are calling the Moscow Manhattan. It is a sweeping space -- 250 riverside acres that will consist of 18 buildings and 43 million square feet of new real estate from 13 developers. At a projected cost of $10 billion to $12 billion, Moscow City is promoted by its developers as the largest investment and construction project in Europe.
The Federation Tower is the showpiece. It will actually be two towers, the taller one with 93 floors and a height of 1,161 feet, and the other with 63 floors. A 1,470-foot spire will rise between the monoliths, with glass elevators running up its core, offering a panoramic view and entry into the buildings. The towers will have 4.5 million square feet of high-end office space, luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a 44-story Grand Hyatt hotel. The overall impression of the architect's rendering of these slightly bowed, glass-sheathed towers and central mast is that of a mammoth sailboat rising above the Moskva River. A blue banner hugging one side of the smaller tower reads, "This is only the beginning."
As Russia regains its economic and political clout, Polonsky and other young developers are building architectural icons on an enormous scale, visible symbols of the nation's new wealth. The Russian state is now flush with cash. High prices for the country's largely renationalized natural resources -- oil, gas and metals, especially -- and President Vladimir V. Putin's efforts to tighten the screws on government agencies have given investors, foreign and domestic alike, reason to believe that the risk of doing business here has greatly diminished. Last year, Moscow real estate values soared, the Russian stock market grew by 90 percent and Standard & Poor's upgraded its rating on Russia (its evaluation of the viability of doing business in the country). Foreign investment in Moscow grew 67 percent in 2005 from the previous year, to $25 billion. And while there are many critics of the Kremlin's aggressive control of big business, Putin has created a measure of economic stability. And that is what investors want.
City leaders first began discussing the Moscow City concept in the 1980's. The idea was to create a commercial district along the lines of La DÃ©fense in Paris or Lower Manhattan in New York. Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov and his deputies fixed on a site on the Moskva River embankment, two and a half miles from the Kremlin. There were 22 factories and warehouses at that location, along with several dilapidated apartment buildings, a typical Moscow hodgepodge. The city demolished the structures and began soliciting investment. Then came the country's economic crisis in the summer of 1998, which stalled development but didn't keep the mayor's office from campaigning for the new business district. "We spent 10 years marketing Moscow City," says Iosif Ordzhonikidze, the deputy mayor for foreign affairs and economic relations. "We were doing it when the stores had nothing in them."
Now Moscow is booming. It's the biggest city in Europe, with more than 10 million people, and as the cultural and financial capital of the Continent's eastern half, it is striving to live up to its status. Cranes twist across the skyline, great dust clouds billow from countless digs: roughly 80 million square feet of real estate will be built this year. But Moscow's transformation goes beyond the mere number of structures. It is the nature of these new developments that matters most, as modernization and image enhancement have become just as important to the civic leaders as the supply of basic services.
The Kremlin's towers and palaces and the gargantuan structures of Stalin's era have long symbolized Moscow, distinct emblems of czarist and Communist authority. The skyscrapers now going up, however, would fit into the urban plan of any Western capital. And in this way, the Moscow planners and developers are trying to prove to the rest of the world -- and to Russians themselves -- that this country can compete with anyone.
Click here to read the rest of the New York Times article republished over at the Mirax Group website.
You can watch a video tour of the construction site up to the 48th floor here