An ‘Absolute’ game breaker

An ‘Absolute’ game breaker

Too often in the past, Mississauga’s development was ill defined, and ill fitting for a young city on the make.

It was, in most cases, it was just plain boring.

But there’s something poetic about Absolute Towers, better known in these parts as the curvy Marilyn Monroe condos on Highway 10 and Burnhamthorpe.

Not only are the sleek designs innovative to a fault, but their designer, Yansong Ma of China, can’t help waxing poetic when it comes to describing their fit into the urban landscape.

He calls it architecture that serves people and the future, not money.

Others are now thinking poetry as well.

Last month, the Absolute Towers, nicknamed the “Marilyn Monroe,” were awarded the prize of ‘Best Tall Buildings in the Americas.’

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a non-profit group of architects and engineers, awarded the title.

The two Mississauga buildings, 50 storeys and 56 storeys each, are part of a five-building development off Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd.  According to the Toronto Star, their undulating shape is the design of young Beijing-based architect, Ma Yansong, and his firm, MAD Architects. Ma entered an international design competition hosted by the tower’s developers Fernbrook Homes and Cityzen, and was awarded the project in 2006.

In Toronto, Burka Architects designed the interiors alongside engineering firm Sigmund Soudak & Associates. The building represented constant challenges. In most towers, all but two of the floors are exactly the same, said engineer Yury Gelman. In this building, none of them were.

University of Toronto professor Mark Kingwell, a critic of overdeveloped cityscapes, has called this unfettered development ‘cities of bright nightmares.’ His best example is Shanghai.

He could add dozens of others to the list, including Dubai.

What these cities share is a lack of empathy for people. They are almost built to spite humans.

Mississauga, no doubt, has come a long way in urban design.

It’s first iconic building, the city hall, got rave notices from architectural critics, and raised eyebrows from taxpayers who seemed unsure by its city-rural themes, and were often put off by the giant walls that surrounded the edifice.

But everyone seems smitten by the Absolute Towers.