Mississauga unveiled the winner of its landmark development Absolute near the city’s civic centre and Square One shopping mall. The jury picked the building I thought was the best designed, but I’ll admit to paying only passing attention to this competition. Robert Oullette of Reading Toronto has some decent comments on the winner:
Architect Yansong Ma of China declared that high-rise buildings have a close connection with technology and culture. I’m with him there. He also said that high-rises are landmarks of culture. Sure.
However, when he says that social relations have more complexity and [therefore] we need more complexity in this building, he steps over into a fantasy realm shared by a certain type of designer who thinks the surface style of his or her building has some kind of mystical effect on the lives of the people who inhabit it. Architecture can have a profound impact on the lives of people. But it is not the specific style of one high-rise that is at the core of that impact. The impact of, say, choices in density and the number and types of elevators serving a tall building have far more influence on the day to day social lives of a building’s inhabitants that does the “Marilyn Monroe” like curves of its profile. Let’s acknowledge this building for what it is: a beautiful form — maybe even an interesting engineering challenge – but really a marketing tool to attract people to a suburban landscape typically all too devoid of real architectural choices.
Christopher Hume also ruminates on the winner in today’s Toronto Star:
Even Mississauga’s long-serving mayor, Hazel McCallion, declared herself thrilled with the decision. “We started 40 years ago in a hayfield,” said the veteran politician, whose proudest claim is that her city remains debt free. “This is a dream come true.”
In fact, it’s a dream few Mississauga residents would have bothered with until now. Despite McCallion’s boast, hers is a city desperately in need of an identity that goes beyond its lack of debt. You get what you pay for, of course, and in Mississauga that’s been precious little. But that’s old news. What’s interesting this time is that the private sector has moved in to fill the void left by officialdom. What McCallion and her council have failed to provide — namely a place where there’s a there there — will now be addressed by a development consortium.