Volume 26, Issue 6 - November/December 2012

Design Excellence
Mississauga Towers Earn AGG Magazine’s
Inaugural Design Award
by Ellen Rogers

In every issue of the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal (AGG) magazine we set out to recognize innovative architectural glazing. We’ve seen amazing projects all around the world: from China to Dubai, Finland to Spain as well as many right here in the United States. We decided the time was right to take that coverage a step further and recognize some of these outstanding projects, with our first ever international design awards. In this issue we bring you our winner—a project that has been liked to the physique of Marilyn Monroe. With undulating twists and curves, Absolute Towers 4 and 5, the last two in the Absolute City Centre five-tower complex in Mississauga, Ontario, features a glassy, elliptical-shaped façade, designed to give the growing city of Mississauga a structure that would help establish its own identity, separate from neighboring Toronto.

The entry was submitted by AGC Glass Company North America and the towers were built with the company’s Ti-Ac high performance insulating glass. Ti-Ac was specified to achieve the light transmission and neutral reflectance needed to create the visual appearance and energy efficiency desired for this project and climate. Protemp fabricated 257,000 square feet of insulating, low-E on clear glass. According to the entry, Ti-AC glass was specified to achieve the light transmission and neutral reflectance level needed to create the visual appearance as well as the desired energy efficiency.

The glass helps provide a very neutral appearance, daylighting and views. As AGC noted in its entry, “the appearance of the towers changes throughout the day, taking on different colors because of the neutral reflective characteristics of the exterior glazing.”

Toronto-based Burka Architects served as master architect for the entire complex, which is located at Mississauga’s city center. According to the firm’s Attila Burka, prior to the project there were various high-rise residential towers, but on this particular corner something was missing. To find this identifying landmark structure, an international competition was held. The winning design was submitted by Beijing-based MAD Architects. As master architects Burka could not enter the competition, but was contracted by MAD to carry out the design of the two residential towers, internal layout of the towers, the podium and to spearhead the approval process and to create the construction documents. The 56-story Tower A is 45,000 square meters, while the 50-storey Tower B is 40,000 square meters.

According to Ma Yansong, founding principal of MAD, the firm developed the architecture for the towers based on a contemporary interpretation of nature.

“All of our projects [have a] desire to protect the sense of community, offering people the freedom to develop their own experience,” says Yansong. “We wanted to introduce natural forms that played with light, shadow and wind.”

Yansong adds, “Our design concept [aims to] connect nature and human beings through lively form and oriental philosophy about the tension between them, [as well as] between the two towers.”

According to Burka, the design was a lot like a flower vase – empty on the inside. His firm was brought on to access the design and determine how it could be built. He says they had two days to do this and ultimately “came up with the concept that would make the building stand up. We implemented the design and floor plan, including the design and construction documents, etc., and also had the buildings certified,” says Burka, who adds that while many buildings are designed from the inside out, that was not the case here.

“Function followed form,” he says explaining that the building followed more of an artistic approach. “It has an artistic shape that’s not governed by function.”

Burka worked closely with Sigmund, Soudack & Associates Inc., the structural engineer, to create a structure that would be both function-able and marketable.

There are also a significant number of windows in the towers, which were supplied by Toro Aluminum based in Concord, Ontario. The project features Toro’s 2000 series window wall system, along with its railing system for the balconies. Commdoor Aluminum provided entrances and 6000 SSG series curtainwall which were used on the ground floor and for the retail storefronts. Toro Aluminum, Protemp Glass and Commdoor Aluminum are part of The Toro Group of companies.

Burka adds, “Buildings are significant as focal points because they attract relevant use and visual appreciation in a cultural vocabulary which created it. In other words, it will become an expression of its time and the people who designed and built it.”

“The unique structural design of the Absolute Towers project with its twisting and curving shape, complemented by its world class glass façade, truly sets it apart. The visual aesthetics are stunning, not only from a static design standpoint, but how it interacts with the surrounding light: to see how the building color changes throughout the day or from each day to the next. Simply stated, it is a project true to its name because it is an ‘absolute’ from every perspective,” says Jeff de Waal, architectural manager-Canada, AGC Glass Company North America. “I have worked with architectural design teams on projects in major cities around the world and I was very pleased to be a part of this award-winning project,” de Waal adds.

Ellen Rogers is editor of the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal magazine. She can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @AGGmagazine and like AGG magazine on Facebook to receive updates.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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