In 2009, an interesting structural landmark emerged in the dynamic urban landscape of Chicago City when the Aqua Tower was finished. The building is like a giant kinetic sculpture owing to its out of the box fa?ade that appears to be undulating resulting from the irregular shape and orientation of its balconies. The distinct building did not go unnoticed as it was immediately praised by critics who were captivated by the unique tower.
Aqua Tower is a multi-purpose residential high-rise and was conceptualized by Jeanne Gang who was working for the firm Studio Gang Architects. It has 82 floors and towers at an altitude of 819 feet or 250 meters and is one of the many skyscrapers found at the Lakeshore East stretch, a stone?s throw away from the famous Chicagoan hang out venue Millennium Park.
Aqua Tower was one of the highest buildings that were constructed from 2000 to 2009 which is also the peak of high-rise construction in the Windy City. The funding for the tower was obtained in August of 2007, just in time before the credit crisis hit the United States and halted the construction of new skyscrapers. Barring all financial difficulties that could have hindered its building, the Aqua Tower received many accolades in the Emporis? Skyscraper Award in 2009.
The tower is one of the tallest high-rises built during Chicago's skyscraper boom of 2000 - 2009. Its financing was secured in August 2007, just before the credit crunch brought the construction of new high-rises to a virtual standstill. The tower has garnered critical acclaim and received Emporis's 2009 Skyscraper Award.
Actually, Aqua Tower in its very core is a basic high rise. However, the orientation and design of the balconies, which is different for every apartment, gives the building its beautiful form. The design of the rippling balconies from the lowest part of the building leading to the highest floors, give rise to a remarkable fa?ade. Up close, the exterior looks like ocean waves which is also why the building is called Aqua.
Aside from acting as aesthetic enhancers, the balconies also have practical benefits. The undulating balconies disrupt the wind stream which means that the tower requires less resistance to withstand the powerful Chicago wind. Engineers did not need to put a tuned mass damper to stabilize the structure. The balconies extend from 2 feet to 12 feet thereby allowing for more residents to have vistas of the beautiful Michigan Lake and the magnificent Chicago River. Also, the balconies cast shadows on the apartment below them which blocks heat and reduces the need for artificial air condition. For units without balconies above, they are cladded with glass to block the heat from entering the residential properties.
The building rests on two plain looking platforms which are seamlessly joined at the ground level. Set on top of these platforms is an extensive green roof complete with a running oval, outdoor pool and landscaped gardens. Planters located on the streets mirrors the rippling aesthetic of the balconies.