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Moscow's Post-9/11 Skyscraper

The developer for a Moscow skyscraper billed as Europe's tallest vowed Wednesday that state-of-the-art construction and design methods would make it safe from terrorist airplane attacks like those that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.

The futuristic, glass-clad Federation Tower now under construction will house offices, a hotel and luxury apartments along the Moscow river in a western region of the Russia capital. Its twin, sail-like towers - the tallest of which will be 340 meters (1115 feet) - are attached to a central 430-meter (1410-feet) stiletto-like spire and are ringed by pillars.

"The pillars would cut through the plane, and that is all," said Sergei Polonsky, president of Mirax Group, describing the building's resilience to a Sept. 11-style terror attack on a press tour Wednesday.

"Regardless of how many planes hit it, it won't fall down," he said, standing in the shadow of one of the partially completed, reinforced concrete pillars ringing the perimeter of tower B, the smaller of the two.

In Western Europe, the tallest building is Frankfurt's 260-meter (850-foot) Commerzbank tower.

Wednesday's event saw presentation of the major contractors in the Federation Tower project, for which construction costs are estimated to be $540 million. They include manager Turner Construction Co., a division of the New York headquartered high-rise specialists, structural engineers Thornton-Tomasetti Group Inc., ThyssenKrupp AG elevators division and Liebherr Group, which will be providing cranes.

Mirax has worked on a number of upscale apartment and office projects in Moscow.

Federation Tower is emblematic of the construction boom that has transformed Moscow's skyline in recent years and filled the city's streets with the rumble of building work. The skyscraper will form the focal point of the sprawling Moscow City development - a glass and steel assembly of high-rises-in-the-making, designed as Moscow's answer to Wall Street or London.

Sergey Tchoban, from architects Tchoban Voss, said that while it may contrast with Moscow's older buildings, the Federation project would be a part of the capital's new, eclectic style.

"Moscow is a city of silhouettes...we hope it will complement and enrich the structure of the city's silhouette," Tchoban said.

But for now it's a silhouette in the making - tower B is just two floors high and swarming with Turkish and Chinese builders.

So far Mirax isn't saying how much of the building's office space is taken, but Polonsky was confident that as the biggest building in the capital, they wouldn't need to take out ads in the newspapers.

"It's like honey," he said. "If it's there, the bees come by themselves."

By Alex Nicholson