Friday, September 27, 2013
Marilyn in Mississauga
Curve appeal is not something usually attributed to high-rise buildings.
But the 56-story Absolute Tower in Mississauga, Ontario has sky-high curves. It's called "Marilyn," a reference to the hourglass figure of the late actress Marilyn Monroe, and also has international admirers. The tower twists 209 degrees from the base to the top and is thinner in the middle as it rises.
Its design was the result of an international design competition for the building of a fourth tower for Absolute World, a residential condo complex in this Toronto suburb of 735,000 residents. It was the first time in 40 years that an international design competition was held by a private development group for building a tower greater than 50 stories and the tallest building in Mississauga when completed. Over 600 registrants and 92 submissions from architects in 70 countries participated.
The public and judging panel voted for the six finalist designs. In March 2007, the selected winning design was from Yansong Ma, founder of the MAD Architectural Design Studio, a Beijing/China architectural design firm; Ma had never heard of Mississauga when he found the design competition online.
The unpredictable bulges of the skyscraper, make it look different from every angle. Most skyscrapers are built on straight lines as they’re more efficient to build that way. The five-tower Absolute World project cost $450 million Canadian dollars; more than half went in constructing the two curvy towers. The second north high-rise spirals asymmetrically, not enough to steal the spotlight from “Marilyn" and gets larger in the middle; locally it's called "Joe," a reference to Marilyn Monroe's husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio.
The towers overlook the Square One Shopping Center, one of the largest shopping malls in the Toronto region. In the 428-unit “Marilyn” and 433-unit "Joe," every floor is different with a wrap-around balcony. Support walls had to be widened and narrowed, and columns lengthened and shortened, to hold up each successive floor. Builders and engineers had to design an internal construction hoist, since curving walls wouldn’t allow an affordable external one.
Not only are the curvy Mississauga twins associated with Hollywood’s famous blonde, but are among the world’s best new skyscrapers. They recently were awarded the prize of Best Tall Buildings in the Americas by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.