Bad Buildings recently had the unusual ambivalent fortune (that is to say, neither good nor bad; we’re reserving judgment lest you get the impression we’re an urbanity snob—heaven forbid) of traveling north on Hurontario Street in Mississauga, past the intersection of Burnamthorpe Road. For the urbanity snobs among you, this would be Mississauga downtown—a nifty bit of urban planning that says, hey, we CAN build a “city” out of nuthin’. (Note ambivalent tone torquing only-and-ever-so-slightly)
In any case, at this intersection, the heart—the very throbbing pulse, one might even say—of this model city centre, a structure that will no doubt define it for generations is rising. It’s rising off-kilter, torqued and a little awry, but, two years after it was announced, it is, finally, rising. We are, of course, talking about Cityzen Group’s 50-story (shudder) “Marilyn Monroe” tower, which cute little old Hazel McCallion, ole’ Miss’s octegenerian mayor, predicted would be a “real landmark.”
Okay. Cities may form their identities organically over the decades, but our civic leaders, alas, tend to choose the grand symbols we present to the rest of the world (witness Olde Pointy, the CN Tower, destined to soon become the second-tallest tower on earth, following Dubai’s version of same, the Burj Dubai, set for completion this year. We’re number two! So Canadian. But we digress).
In Mississauga, where nothing is organic, from what we can tell, this contortional squibble of a building is as fitting a symbol as any. Its trivial goofiness may come to be viewed with awe by those who travel the Hurontario/Burnamthorpe corridor, but its impact on the larger world, we predict, will be somewhere next to nil.
It’s bold, sure, we’ll give it that (maybe it should have been on our list?) And kudos to the developers (gak, we think we just puked in our mouths a little) for taking a bit of a risk.
But our quibble with the squibble, as it were, is simply this: Lauded as, ahem, “sexy,” and “glamorous,” we see nothing of the sort, unless you’re one of those folks who found Fritz the Cat sexy (hey, no offence—to each his or her own). Because it is, frankly, a cartoon—a dorky rendition of a building that seeks only to make a spectacle of itself. To us, sexy buildings aren’t silly—they’re commanding, forceful, a veritable Brando of a building, all muscle and attitude. Think the Chrysler Building, or the Empire State, or Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim—take me now, Frank! Now!
Ahem. So, in any case, it would appear our urbanity snobbery is revealed. Character isn’t conjured, it’s formed. Mississauga seems to be missing that point, and this screwy goofball only serves to make that painfully clear.