After months of growing fainter and fainter, the gigantic titanium cloud that was to have been the Guggenheim Museum on the East River dissipated completely yesterday, victim of the Guggenheim's financial straits and a weak economy. In a three-paragraph e-mail message, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced that it had withdrawn its proposal to build a polymorphous, 400-foot-tall building designed by Frank Gehry on Piers 9, 13 and 14, south of the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan. Thomas Krens, the foundation director, acknowledged as unrealistic the prospect of financing the $950 million project at a time when the museum is cutting budget, staff and programs. Beginning Sunday, for example, the Guggenheim Las Vegas is to go dark indefinitely.
In a city whose skyline has long been dominated by concrete Soviet monoliths, some unlikely new neighbors have been appearing. A glass and metal spaceship-like apartment building squats behind the Foreign Affairs Ministry. A lemon-yellow wedding cake towers over the neighborhood where a famous Russian writer once lived. A curvy glass mall stands defiantly across from the old K.G.B. headquarters. They are apartments and office spaces being erected with tremendous speed as demand for elite housing by Russia's growing wealthy class increases. The buildings, much despised by a small group of historians and intellectuals, are part of Moscow's frenzied rebirth. The recent changes are signs of a new Russia, where a longing for luxury was sharpened by 70 years of shopping monotony.
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