Futuristic circular condo building looks spacious, but its shape is based on practicality



I’m always interested in buildings that get nicknames. Usually these nicknames indicate affection, sometimes the opposite, but they always mean people are paying attention.

The circular condo project near the Disraeli Bridge is certainly noticed. It’s been called the flying saucer, the UFO, the spaceship. It has been compared to a hockey puck, chocolate cake, donut, and Trivial Pursuit game piece.

Its official name is 62M, after its address is 62 MacDonald Ave. It rises dramatically on 10-meter concrete stilts, appearing to hover near the bridge, and when its windows glow in the night sky, this contemporary structure can appear spacious.

In fact, 62M is an anchored structure, its super cool futuristic form rooted in practical issues of old-fashioned building efficiency, profitability, and economics of the prairies.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The nicknames for the 62M condos include “the flying saucer” and “the spaceship”.

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FREE PRESS RELEASES MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG

The nicknames for the 62M condos include “the flying saucer” and “the spaceship”.

Designed by 5468796 Architecture, a Winnipeg-based firm that has garnered national and international attention and awards since its founding in 2007, the shape of the 62M is a thoughtful response to its unappealing site. Despite being located near the recent wave of posh development along Waterfront Drive, the structure sits on a remnant of industrial land, on an awkward, bushy site crammed against the freeway.

To get the light and views needed for a residential project, the architects had to go up, and once up, they had to build as efficiently as possible to keep the costs of these entry-level condos down. They ended up with a two-level circle with 40 triangular units of identical shape, plus a fabulous penthouse at the top. (It is rented on Airbnb.)

Ken Borton, a partner at firm 546, was the architect on the project, having seen 62M from design to completion in 2017, and it also happens to be living there with his family now. He recognizes that the building’s unusual shape makes it a recognizable landmark.

“When you say, ‘I’m in the spaceship above the bridge,’ people know exactly where it is. ”

“When you say, ‘I’m in the spaceship above the bridge,’ people know exactly where it is. ” – Ken Borton, project architect

But this is not a glance at me. “We didn’t just make a big circle and put him on his legs to draw attention to him,” says Borton. “In fact, we did not enter the project with that in mind. The final design was determined by the odd size and shape of the site, budget constraints, and how many units the developers wanted.

Borton recalls one late night session: “It was three in the morning, and I was just testing all the options to see what worked on the site, and more and more the circle fit the best. The shape of the disc allowed for the most square footage with the least amount of building envelope and reduced construction and maintenance costs. And because the units were identically shaped, many modular elements could be prefabricated off-site.



<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>A detail of the underside of the “flying saucer” condominium near the Disraeli Bridge.</p>
<p>“width =” 1024 “height =” 683 “srcset =” https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 400w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com /images/600*600/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 600w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 700w, https: // media .winnipegfreepress.com / images / 800 * 800 / NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 800w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 900w, https : //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00015.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>A detail of the underside of the “flying saucer” condominium near the Disraeli Bridge.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>Referring to the historical and industrial atmosphere of the district, the materials are wood, raw concrete and weathered steel.  (If there’s one thing Winnipeg gets a lot of, it’s the weather, and – as the name suggests – weather-resistant steel is designed to gradually develop a dark, textured patina as it goes. ‘it’s exposed to the elements.)			</p>
<p>Inside, things feel very contemporary.  Each unit is essentially one long space, a setup associated with modest homes like railroad apartments and shotgun shacks, but here with significant upgrades, allowing residents to live in a wedge-shaped space without feel stuck.			</p>
<p>The 610 square foot space starts out narrow at the entrance, then unfolds to a wide view along the expansive exterior window.  “Utilities and utilities are all on the lean end, and the bulk of the pie is where you spend most of your time – in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the living space.” , explains Borton.			</p>
<p>Some units have taken a “Swiss Army Knife approach,” Borton says, placing the necessities of life in a dense bank and tucked away along a wall, which involves plenty of “luxury cabinetry” and ingenious backstage.			</p>
<div class=

The space is compact but seems bigger. “It’s wide where you want it to be, and you don’t really notice the angle,” suggests Borton. “And he feels generous because of the big flexible and open space and all that window.” Over 20 feet wide, with floor-to-ceiling glass, the window opens up the space to the city skyline.



<p> WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS RELEASES</p>
<p>The 62M Condo is a project located on MacDonald Avenue near the Disraeli Bridge.</p>
<p>“width =” 1024 “height =” 683 “srcset =” https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 400w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com /images/600*600/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 600w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 700w, https: // media .winnipegfreepress.com / images / 800 * 800 / NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 800w, https: //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 900w, https : //media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP45978_web_211130-Flying-saucer-00124.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>    WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS RELEASES</p>
<p>The 62M Condo is a project located on MacDonald Avenue near the Disraeli Bridge.</p>
</figcaption></figure>
<p>Borton’s little girl is going through “a car phase,” he says, and loves watching the traffic streaming on the busy Disraeli.			</p>
<p>And clearly, a lot of people in these cars are looking at the building.  This very distinctive shape acts as a kind of architectural beacon.  “There is a good buzz,” says Borton.  “It is above all a younger clientele who live here.			</p>
<p>“Some people have wanted to live here since they saw it.”			</p>
<p>alison.gillmor@winnipegfreepress.com			</p>
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Alison gillmor

Alison gillmor
Writer

A student at the University of Winnipeg and later at York University in Toronto, Alison Gillmor considered becoming an art historian. She eventually caught the journalism bug when she started as a visual arts critic for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

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