December 2015

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92 | DECEMBER 2015 Erin Mills Town Centre Redevelopment PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY MMC ARCHITECTURE; 20 VIC MANAGEMENT INC. Erin Mills Town Centre Redevelopment by GODFREY BUDD W hen the Ontario Pension Board (OPB) bought Erin Mills Town Centre in 2010, the 21-year-old mall had begun to look a little dowdy. The post-modern architecture now seemed perhaps a little too 80s for the 21st cen- tury. More ominously, though, potential customers were bypassing Erin Mills and heading for other malls nearby. At the same time that OPB acquired the property, as well as adjacent parcels of land, 20 VIC Management Inc. assumed its management. "It had lost appeal, but it was a gem in location and size. The cus- tomers wanted a more upscale appear- ance," says Nance MacDonald, VP of Erin Mills Town Centre. Research was underway to better understand the neighbourhood, its res- idents and what might be required to transform the mall – which has excellent views of the city of Mississauga – into a compelling and vibrant retail destina- tion. With a capacity of 300 stores, Erin Mills is smaller than some of the other malls in the region and more suited for about 175 to 200 stores. With the mall's attractions better presented, its size could be turned to its advantage, with perhaps less plan- ning required than for a trip to one of the bigger malls. "We found that a lot of customers wanted a more manageable shopping trip. You can park at Erin Mills easily. Wayfinding is easier. It's maybe not a place for large spending every time you come, but a place you come quite often. A lot of women and kids come here for the convenience. The larger malls have gone very high-end in some cases and are not embracing the community," MacDonald says. Plans were developed for an exten- sive $100-million project that would transform Erin Mills into an architec- tural landmark for Mississauga and pro- vide an enhanced mix of tenants. The redevelopment would be characterized by a modern, international style; replacing skylights with clerestory windows along the three main wings that afford visitors more natural light in common areas. This central area was a key part of the mall's interior redesign. Removing the clock tower and replacing it with a sphere that included a glass dome, not only added daylight, but opened up the site lines along the mall's three wings, says Frank Di Niro, a partner at GHA Design Studios. Designed as a community attrac- tion and focal point, it features a sunken amphitheatre-like space with additional bench seating and a raised infinity pool. "It's a gathering place – potentially for promotional events, fashion shows and non-profit fundraisers," Di Niro says. Erin Mills Town Centre's new food court, complete with soaring windows looking out on a patio with views of Mississauga, opened last spring. It fea- tures a 54-foot-high atrium and lots of natural wave-wood panelling. "We're providing a special experience with spectacular views for food court prices," MacDonald says. "We wanted a modern look to bring back a younger demographic. A phys- ical upgrade was also needed," says Chris Brown, managing director at MMC Architecture. HVAC, roofing, parking lighting, floors and entrance doors are among the mall's components that have been replaced or extensively upgraded. Before the mall's makeover, "the large central court area was very dark with lots of kiosks and small tenants," says Brown. Now, there are two large areas with lots of natural light. The central court area's sphere, which has the biggest seg- ments of structural double-curved glass in the world, measures 283 feet in circum- ference. It not only provides illumination aplenty, but replaces the mall's original clock tower as an iconic architectural landmark. The food court, on the second level, has a window wall, about 50-feet high. "It's done in structural glass, about 300- to 400-feet long," Brown says. Entrances now have more glass as well, Brown adds. "This helps achieve a sense of opening up to the outside. The focus used to be all internal. With this, we are trying to make the mall more outward-looking." A new glass-covered walkway extends from the mall to the public transit area and the Erin Mills Parkway. Another factor that enhances the visual interaction between the mall's interior and exterior is the option that some tenants have to express their busi- ness's identity on the outside of the mall. Brown gives an example: "Two restau- rants located at the main entrance will have their own visual identity on the outside and can open after mall hours." Apart from two anchor stores, The Bay and Sears, as well as tenant improve- ments, much of the mall's exterior has been re-clad with brick, masonry stone and stucco. The new food court's dedicated HVAC is part of the push to augment the visi- tor experience of the mall. When the food court gets busy and exhaust is expelled from kitchens, "automated exhaust fans begin removing air from the food area, so the above roof fans power up to compen- sate for the air that's been removed," says Gunther Lammers, field services man- ager with The Mitchell Partnership Inc. He adds, "Ventilation fans in the food court are interlocked by software to the kitchen exhaust systems, so that a balance is achieved, and avoids a waste of energy." The mall's new glass-covered fea- tures involved installation of structural steel elements. Efforts were made, how- ever, to minimize the amount of it. "We did a finite element analysis to help assign the right load to girders. This was to minimize girders and make it as light as possible," says Andrew Crosby, a structural engineer at Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. Work for the project involved two shifts, one day, one night, as the mall con- tinued operating. The three main wings required extensive scaffolding and tem- porary EPDM roofing. Much of this work was done during the day. "A lot of stuff was done above people's heads, so when the scaffold was removed, it was all done," says Cristian Yanez, project man- ager with Broccolini Construction Inc. A LOCATION 5100 Erin Mills Parkway, Mississauga, Ontario OWNER Ontario Pension Board DEVELOPER/PROJECT MANAGER 20 VIC Management Inc. ARCHITECT/INTERIOR DESIGN CONSULTANT MMC Architecture GENERAL CONTRACTOR Broccolini Construction Inc. STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. MECHANICAL CONSULTANT The Mitchell Partnership Inc. ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Hammerschlag + Joffe Inc. LANDSCAPE CONSULTANT DTAH INTERIOR DESIGN GHA Design Studios TOTAL SIZE 1,081,600 square feet TOTAL COST $100 million

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