Marilyn Monroes have sky-high curves

Marilyn Monroes have sky-high curves

They’ve got her sky-high curves and international admirers.

A pair of voluptuous Mississauga condo towers is now in league with Hollywood’s most famous blonde — as well as the world’s best new skyscrapers.

The Absolute Towers, the first nicknamed the “Marilyn Monroe,” were awarded the prize of Best Tall Buildings in the Americas Wednesday.

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

Other winners included a Sydney skyscraper with a sunlit, roof-top atrium, a 40-storey “piazza” in Italy, and a tower in Abu Dhabi with a façade that rotates with the movement of the sun.

The winner from among the four buildings will be announced Oct. 18 at the Council’s 11th annual awards ceremony in Chicago.

The two Mississauga buildings, 50 storeys and 56 storeys each, are part of a five-building development off Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd.

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.

For Gelman, this created the most challenging project of his almost 40-year career – and one of the most exciting.

“I remember when it started, I couldn’t sleep, because I was afraid we wouldn’t get it,” he said. “And then we got it, I couldn’t sleep, because I was wondering how we would solve these structural problems.”

But he knew from the beginning that they would be “extraordinary.”

The buildings are expected to be fully built by August. Only the penthouses and executive suites still need to be finished, said Stacey Stewart, a high-rise sales representative with Fernbrook. Most of the residents have already moved in.

The shape has translated to attention, and buyers, from home and abroad.

“We get people commenting all the time,” said Stewart.

Buyers have come from around the world, particularly Dubai. They have a taste for eye-catching high-rises, she says, and they “appreciate” the building’s style.

Such a high profile may seem surprising for a suburban condo project, but Kevin Brass, public affairs manager for the Council, says the towers are in step with global trends.

“There’s been a more fundamental shift,” he said. “In the past, towers were almost universally office towers, and they were icons for companies.”

In 2000, 85 of the 100 tallest buildings were offices, he said. In 2012, the number expected to drop to 41.

In place of cubicles, high-rises host homes and hotels. They’re expected to be functional, not just fancy, he said, and there’s an emphasis on efficiency and quality of life.

Brass said the tower’s address is also part of a regional shift. While skyscrapers are surging in numbers in Asia and the Middle East, in North America, the building boom has slowed.

Instead of big urban centres, new towers tend to be in younger, smaller cities like Mississauga, he said. These building can gives a city a sense of identity while packing a visual punch.

As a result, the jury tries to be “location agnostic”, considering the best work, no matter where it’s from.

“Nobody was making Mississauga jokes,” he said with a laugh.

But the movie-star comparisons certainly don’t hurt. And Yury Gelman, the structural engineer who worked on the buildings, says they’re well deserved.

“It is Marilyn Monroe,” he said, his voice inflected with pride. “It looks like her.