Mirabella Condos: Where Sustainability Meets Captivating, Vibrant Art in Toronto

Art adds meaning to the world in every facet. It can provoke feelings, it can stand for something and make a difference in someone’s life. It can be a beautiful interruption from the mundane and add some new vibrancy to life. When it comes to real estate in Toronto, art is rarely seen in any grandiose way. Mirabella Condos seem to really put that to the forefront of their design.

You typically see art as afterthoughts in condo lobbies, opposite elevator buttons, throughout hallways and internally in residents’ suites. Very seldomly do you see a large artistic expression on the outside of the building. And no, the colourful and temporary scaffolding around the building when it’s being constructed with marketing messages does not count. We are talking about art being a main feature of the building.

Usually, producing art at a large scale adhered to a building does not come easy. With wind, weather, and possibly other artists tagging over the spot, it adds complexities and difficulties to even consider it. Most of which is out of the question in a normal condo developer’s eyes.

This is why I wanted to personally highlight Mirabella Condos. This project caught my eye first with the renderings of this massive art piece covering an entire side of the building. I thought to myself, how are they going to pull this off?

So, I wanted to dig deeper and learn more about the project, the artist and the people who made this building and art piece possible. As I was digging deeper, the aspects I learned became more and more rewarding. It turns out a Canadian artist collaborated with Mirabella Developments to create this massive piece of artwork using a very complex process to adhere it to the building. 

At that point, I was all ears. So, who is this Canadian artist?

About The Artist

Jennifer Macklem grew up outside of Montreal and she was living remotely about an hour outside of Ottawa when the Mirabella Development team contacted her. Macklem received her Masters in Fine Arts from the Université du Quebec and has studied her passions in Europe before coming back and working on different projects in Canada. Her work has focused on the ethics of care and continues to highlight the importance of social and ecological diversity in her work.

Beautiful meanings behind some vibrant artwork, but the story goes deeper. 

The Artwork’s Inspiration

The beautiful art piece came together based on a feeling of curiosity and digging deeper into interests from the president of the Mirabella Development Corporation, Julie Di Lorenzo. Di Lorenzo attended the University of Toronto and when walking through one of the buildings between classes, she noticed a beautiful art piece, a metallic and reflective work that captivatingly filled the space around it. Di Lorenzo saw the Dragonfly art piece from Ottawa-based artist, Jennifer Macklem. Di Lorenzo was hooked and shortly after she reached out to give praise and to understand the piece and the artist further.

Dragonfly was later brought up with her team at the Mirabella Developments when it came to designing Mirabella Condos and helping it stand out. The opportunity came up to feature a piece of art on the side of the building, but at first, it was only going to take up a section of the building before a member of Julie Di Lorenzo’s team, Joe Foti, President of Construction, who created a design/system that allowed for the whole side of the building to be used as art. 

Enter Motion in Air (Ma)

Motion in Air (or Ma as a dedication to the artist’s mother) by Jennifer Macklem acts as a striking gateway when entering and exiting Toronto’s downtown core from the west. The artwork is composed of vibrant recycled aluminum panels that make up the beautiful graphics and colours that you see. It’s processed in such a way that it can withstand the dynamic range of weather conditions that occur in Toronto while maintaining the vibrant colours that Macklem envisioned.

It’s intended by Macklem to be a large and welcoming image that evokes water, sky, and plant life to bring focus to the ecological importance of the zestful location around Mirabella Condos. ‘Interconnected’ is imprinted on the art piece as well to bring forth the importance of sustainability with the environment around us and the intrinsic necessity with water and air that we breathe and how we are connected directly with that. Another aspect to highlight is a large dragonfly with a full wingspan which is a continuation and nod to her earlier 2017 work at the University of Toronto that Julie Di Lorenzo first fell in love with.

I personally love the placement of this artwork because it comes at a point along a mundane commute and energizes it in such a great way. Just think about it, there are more than 100,000 people that commute in and out of the city, often stuck in rush hour traffic. The Motion in Air (Ma) artwork is almost a visual cue and reminder for you to think of something different compared to the car ahead of you. It allows you to switch gears and think about what you contribute to the environment around you is just as important as the other decisions you make in your life.

I find it so refreshing compared to the normal glass and concrete jungle we normally drive by, don’t you?

The Process of Creating Motion in Air

Here are some quick notes about the interesting and surprisingly complex process used to create Motion in Air (Ma).

  • There were more than 500 panels that were manufactured in over four phases of production, taking months-long to craft.
  • Quebec-based aluminum specialists ALTO™ Aluminum worked closely with Macklem to print her artwork with a dye sublimation technique onto aluminum to retain the vibrant printed colours how it was envisioned initially through computer design software
  • Grade 5052 aluminum was used for its ductile and strong properties and can withstand changing environments and temperature ranges
  • The images were powder coated the graphics onto the panels and used heat and pressure fuses to transfer the images onto the panels themselves.
  • Their powder coat process is a non-toxic, low exhaust process that contains zero solvents, making any polluting VOCs negligible to the atmosphere during production.
  • The Triumph Group of Companies installed the artwork currently in place today and the complex project took 10-weeks on-site to install.
  • The Motion in Air (Ma) art project cost over $1 Million in private funds from Mirabella Developments in partnership with Fengate Capital.
  • Overseeing the project Quality Control was President of Construction Joe Foti and VP of Development Sean Wang. Construction management is done by PCL.

It was a combination of great minds together to create this art piece and had more complexities than what I know I originally saw. It also showed that Mirabella Developments were willing to take the risk and responsibility to prove that public art to this large of a scale could be done and done well.

But, what about the hesitations of weather, wind and other potential harms?

Motion in Air (Ma) was cleverly made too.

With panel design, they can keep it looking pristine, just in case they need to reprint one of the panels. The panels are rigid and strong, but still provide a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials. Finally, it’s printed in a unique way onto each sustainable aluminum panel to retain the vibrancy instead of the colours fading easily over time and with sun exposure. 

About Mirabella Condos

The Motion in Air (Ma) artwork is embedded onto Mirabella Condos, a new condominium that provides luxury living on the lakeshore of the west side of Toronto. Mirabella Condos is not two hours away from Toronto in a small port town, it’s practically in downtown Toronto. The location of this 38-storey condo is so convenient to downtown living but also provides a pocket on its own to enjoy incredible views of Lake Ontario and High Park to the north, making it an interconnected experience to the nature around you. If you like to walk, bike, rollerblade, or run, having such close access to the Waterfront Trail that runs along Lakeshore is a huge plus. 

I find the look of this building quite striking to what is around it. The podium with the Motion in Air (Ma) artwork stands over the street, providing immediate separation between your suite and the daily commuters. Then up from the podium, you have two towers with a lovely green outdoor amenities space in the middle, perfect for the warmer weather.

The views themselves south towards Lake Ontario will be unobstructed and with suites not starting until the 12th floor, so you have beautiful, almost aerial views of one of the best and most relaxing spots in Toronto. 

Usually, you have to move out of the city for more space, however, at Mirabella Condos, the suite sizes are 20% larger than the average downtown condo so you can live larger without commuting 45-minutes outside of the city to get the same amount of space.

The Sustainable Focus of Mirabella Condos

When you have a massive public art display showcasing the importance of sustainability on the side of your building, you are going to have to back it up with the construction.

Mirabella will plant 28 trees onsite, is expected to achieve a 20% energy efficiency improvement over the 2017 Ontario Building Code, even the water consumption will be structured from low-flow plumbing fixtures. They have thought of not only the artwork having zero emissions but their building finishes that are constructed and produced using low or no emission materials.

Mirabella Development’s goal for the luxury condo project is to demonstrate their commitment to the environment by being registered under the LEED® green building rating system, with an ultimate goal of Mirabella Condos being LEED® Gold certified development. In addition to this Mirabella has achieved the Tier 2 level of Toronto Green Standards V2, which is over and above what the City of Toronto requires for this new development.

In addition to this, the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) Version 2 Tier 2 is above what they were required to meet for Mirabella, however, the TGS Version 3 Tier 1, which is required for new developments, is equivalent to TGS Version 2 Tier 2 and therefore we wouldn’t be over and above what the City of Toronto requires for new developments. We are over and above what is required for Mirabella.

The Bottom Line

After working in real estate for over 10 years, personally, I don’t see these buildings too often. A lot of developers will try to create their artwork through their architecture or how the building is designed, but oftentimes, it will just blend into the background with the other skyscraping condos. A highlighting feature of art is usually never found in the conversation of Toronto real estate or it’s kept indoors to a select few audience members with little to no importance other than that of interior design aesthetics. 

This particular project is different and I like that about it.

It highlights art and puts it at the forefront.

It highlights the importance of being interconnected with your environment and being conscious of how you live with your surroundings.

It highlights the importance of supporting Canadian artwork and artists as well. 

Mirabella Condos is a great outlier and will provide a colourful start and end to your day if you are driving into Toronto. It will provide that car window filling vibrancy that is not found on the commute normally. It will be a nice break from the mundane and fill your day with a reminder of meaning and connectedness to the world around you.

How often do you think about your impact on the environment around you? 

Read more about Motion in Air (Ma), Jennifer Macklem and Mirabella Condos.

I wanted to thank Julie Di Lorenzo, Jennifer Macklem, Lisa Waddell and the Mirabella Developments team for allowing me to learn the interconnected background between the art and the importance behind it. 

To answer an initial question, yes, Mirabella Development team, you pulled it off. 

I can’t wait to see it again on my way to and from Toronto.