M City - Phase 1

M City is a model for addressing the challenge of urbanizing the periphery of large cities. The shear scale of this new territory calls into question the old streets-and-blocks architecture of the centre city. Instead the development of the periphery demands its own solutions that address “bigness” which is the most salient legacy of 20th century planning and traffic engineering. 

The final build-out of M City project will include a 10 residential condo towers with over 6,000 units for sale or rent on 4.3 million square feet.  Key community features will include extending existing city streets on an angular plane to form a network of land parcels; and creating a pedestrian-friendly environment. Throughout the project there will be two-way roads with street parking, large sidewalks and residential frontages.  Two acres of parkland and access to the planned LRT along with infrastructure improvements will be important aspects of the public realm for the anticipated 15,000 residents that will call M City home. 

The first and most visible phase of the project will be a 60-storey tower, on top of an extended 5-storey horizontal base or “podium” of public facilities and retail and recreational uses. Unlike development in Toronto’s 19th century urban core, this new territory of development affords the exciting opportunity to make architecture that is unapologetically big. Free of the need to defer to the scale of 19th century buildings that were limited in height by the constraints of masonry construction, M City will offer a multi-level public realm that fully realizes the capabilities of advanced reinforced concrete building technologies. 

In simplest terms, the project is a 61-storey tower on top of a five-storey podium. The tower has a special geometry that not only provides for excellent residential units but also contributes to the iconic role of this building on the urban skyline. The podium has a prismatic shape by virtue of its faceted glass walls, as well as a large rooftop amenity and green roof.

The tower’s unique appearance results from the rotation of the floor plates. There are 7 typical floor plate shapes (A,B,C,D,E,F and G), beginning with a rectangle (D) and skewing first towards one extreme (G), then skewing back through D to the other extreme (A). The corners of each plate floor plate shifts over 1m from the plate below.  This is done with short shear walls that ‘walk’ along with the skewing and overlap above and below

Unlike other sculptural towers that sacrifice the livability of the units to achieve unique shapes, the precise geometric procedures we have used do not compromise the layouts of the rooms. In addition, continuous balconies made from translucent white laminated glass wrap every floor plate, extending the level of amenity in further. And, in terms of appearance, this outer layer of glass extends 300mm below the slab to create broad horizontal banding and give the building its characteristic form.

We highlighted the importance of how the building meets the ground. The environment it creates for pedestrian experience. A 5-storey portion of the podium has been designed to form the street edge along Burnhamthorpe and Confederation. There is a 1-storey pavilion building on the NW corner that creates a pedestrian mews between it and the rest of the building. At the entry plaza, a one-stprey lobby has been extended to provide for a generous and welcoming entry. The ground level is rounded out with retail units and landscaping, in the interest of creating a lively and interesting pedestrian environment.

The ground level is marked by bold paving patterns that include various contrasting textures and colours shaped into dynamic angles and planes. Along with generous softscape areas and high quality street furniture and boulevard lighting, we envision an enhanced public realm that frames a variety of urban commercial and leisure activities appropriate for a downtown setting

Much of the hope for a truly vibrant urban community rests on the success of the 5-storey podium as an amenity-filled and inviting place for public social activity appealing to a wide demographic spectrum. The architectural presence has been conceived as a series of retail frontages, with large inviting multi-storey glass facades underneath two layers of terraced residential flats. The multi-level public realm offering retail and amenities is a tried-and-tested form of urbanism in eastern countries and especially Asia, and is intended to appeal to both new immigrants familiar with these environments as well as offer Canadians an exciting new form of urbanity. 

The architectural forms of the podium have subtle inflections and notches that introduce granularity to the approximately 120-metre frontage along Burnhamthorpe Road. A thick double row of landscaping and amenity packed hardscape are prominent features of a public realm that includes a promenade and retail mews. These areas are intended to encourage pedestrian use and augment the attractiveness of the retail and restaurant storefronts.  

The tower, intended as the highest part of the whole M City development, will have a unique geometry that redefines Mississauga’s skyline and befitting its role as a beacon for the entire area. Its characteristic undulating geometric presence is a series of twisted horizontal bands that form the entire shaft of the tower. There are seven typical twenty by forty-two meter floor plates, and every one rotates in relation to the one above and below it. The floor plates accommodate approximately 13 units per level, each with a balcony. From top to bottom, the sculptural form is made up of these balconies, and great care has been taken to make sure this presence is uninterrupted by the unsightly mechanical equipment areas that mar the appearance of many high-rise towers. The singular expression of the bands reinforces the sculptural quality of the building forming a dramatic baroque silhouette against the sky. 

Increasing concentrations of population around large cities has put tremendous pressure on the development of the periphery at an unprecedented scale and density. Toronto, a bursting urban megalopolis, has been at the forefront of this global migration. In the context of this situation, all eyes are on its architectural solutions to new forms of urban growth. In a world in need of new solutions for habitation to accommodate these demographic shifts, M City stands out as a robust and hopeful model for new modes of urbanity in the 21st century.