Mississauga, Ont. ‘Marilyn Monroe’ condos garner best skyscraper award

·National Affairs Contributor

A pair of shapely condo towers in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga have snagged the prestigious Emporis Skyscraper Award, while a Calgary building landed in fourth spot.

The honour given to the best in high-rise architecture this year went to Absolute World Towers, which beat out more than 300 entries.

The towers, designed by MAD Ltd. and Burka Architects, have been nicknamed the "Marilyn Monroe" for their arresting curves.

"The way the two structures twist organically by up to eight degrees per floor is not just a superb technical achievement, but also a refreshing change to the set forms of high-rise routine," the jury of experts said of the towers, which are 176 metres and 158 metres tall respectively.

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The Huffington Post noted that the design means that no two floors of the towers are the same, unlike conventional cookie-cutter apartment buildings. The two towers are also not identical.

Emporis noted plans originally called for just one tower, but overwhelming response to the design allowed developers to add a second.

The Bow, the downtown Calgary headquarters of energy companies EnCana and Cenovus, placed fourth on the top 10 list by Emporis, a real estate data research firm. The tower, designed by Foster and Partners, is the tallest building west of Toronto and third tallest in Canada.

Emporis' description notes the building is designed to deflect prevailing winds, incorporates lightweight building methods and makes use of solar heat to lessen the load on its heating and cooling systems. Three middle and upper floors also feature six-storey-high "sky gardens" with natural vegetation where people can sit and hold meetings.

As the Britain's Daily Mail noted, Absolute World Towers is the second Canadian building to capture the Emporis award. Vancouver's One Wall Centre won the prize in 2001.

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Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi finished in second place this year. A computer rotates the building's facade in response to the sun's position to reduce the heat load.

Burj Qatar in Doha, was third, lauded for incorporating Islamic design elements in its facade that are also functional in protecting from the sun's heat.

Two buildings from Turkey, and one each from China, Italy and Spain rounded out the top 10.

The Daily Mail pointed out that the United States, despite being the home of the skyscraper, was shut out of the top spots, though Manhattan's Eight Spruce Street, designed by Canadian Frank Gehry, won last year.

Gehry's striking design sense will be on display in a proposed new development bankrolled by entrepreneur David Mirvish on Toronto's King Street West.

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