Chicago has a new 82-story tower on its skyline that is due for completion in the Spring of 2010.  But in a city of grids and rectilinear forms, the AQUA tower has a distinctive character with a more fluid appearance coming from the deep projecting balconies which are reminiscent of geologic rock formations.  Designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, AQUA is also currently the tallest structure designed by a woman-led firm.


The project is pursuing LEED certification, but only at the basic (Certified) level.  As such, it does not have a long checklist of impressive green features or innovations that are being touted.  Still, with nearly 2 million square feet of space, it is certainly a significant LEED project, and one of the largest green buildings anywhere.

The mixed-use building incorporates high-rise residential, hotel, and retail uses.  The building is being developed by Magellan Development, and Studio Gang worked with Lowenberg & Associates, who were the Architect of Record for the project.

The distinctive balconies which give the building its character are cantilevered from the face of the building as much as 12 feet.  Each floor has a unique footprint.  The form of the building was developed with specific consideration of the other nearby existing buildings as well as the desirable views and landmarks in the area.

The deep overhangs from these balconies will help with providing shading and reducing heat gain during the cooling season.  However, concrete is also a good conductor of heat, and will radiate heat from the building during the winter.  But, as Studio Gang notes, these balconies provide “strong connection to the outdoors and allow inhabitants to occupy the building façade and city simultaneously.



Aqua Tower by karla kaulfuss

Photo & story credits: Studio Gang, Chicago Tribune, karla kaulfuss.