The plans, approved last week by Salford City Council (SCC), show the BBC's main administrative building and two mixed-use towers buildings, but no landmark tower or structure.
However, Martin Hodgson, associate director of Urban Vision - a joint venture between SCC and Capita Symonds which has a remit to drive Salford's regeneration - defended the relatively low-key design.
He said: 'Within spitting distance of the site there are already two iconic buildings - the Lowry and across the water the Imperial War Museum.
'The aim of phase one was to keep the quality up but not to compete with those two buildings.
'The BBC didn't want one building to stand out more than others as there would be a perception that staff in that building would be on a platform compared to staff in the other buildings,' added Hodgson.
The plans shown to councillors included a public plaza which, if built, would be twice the size of Trafalgar Square. However, this element of the plan was not approved. 'The square was shown to councillors to put the plan in context,' explained Hodgson.
When complete in 2011 the £1.5 billion Media City - which is being developed by Peel Holdings - will be staffed by 1,500 BBC employees.