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Aqua- Design for new condo/hotel tower (Chicago)

From a structural standpoint, this building is much more conventional than Absolute World. But based on pure aesthetics, it is Absolute World's soulmate.

BTW, excellent point wylie about the multi-level streets being like a labyrinth. Chicago also has an extensive pedestrian underground between buildings almost like Montréal, but without the latter's abundance of charming shops - but they are working on that too.
July 30, 2007

Here's a picture I took of the building last year (November 08) when I was in Chicago for a weekend.


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MODS: Can we update the thread title?

Aqua makes waves as world's best

REAL ESTATE | Stunner named 2009 Skyscraper of the Year

February 24, 2010

Source here

The lady trumped The Donald. Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang Architects, designed a residential building called the Aqua at 225 N. Columbus. Aqua was named Tuesday as the 2009 Skyscraper of the Year, an annual award issued by Emporis, a company that sells data about tall buildings. With it comes a Top 10 list of the new buildings Emporis judges best in a calendar year.
For 2009, Aqua was ranked first in balloting by the award's jury, Emporis' senior editors. Chicago's Trump International Hotel & Tower finished fifth.

The award-winning Aqua, at 225 N. Columbus, is scheduled to open its rental units in May. It was designed by architect Jeanne Gang (inset).

Aqua has garnered Gang reams of praise since it began taking shape in the Lakeshore East development north of Grant Park. It also was a breakthrough assignment for Gang and her firm. She opened it in 1997 and started with a focus on interiors and small-scale projects. Gang executed them with flair and attention to the environment that brought her to the attention of James Loewenberg, co-chief executive of Magellan Development Group LLC, developer of Lakeshore East.

She has completed work in Chicago for organizations such as the Chinese American Service League, Illinois Institute of Technology and SOS Children's Villages. Her Media Production Center for Columbia College Chicago opened last month at 1600 S. State. Gang, 45, said Aqua was her first high-rise, either at her own shop or dating from her time at Booth Hansen Associates in Chicago and the firm of Rem Koolhaas.

Emporis editors praised Aqua for using standard materials of concrete and glass to bring curves to a relentlessly rectilinear place. The 82-story building's balconies create a wave effect, with each one varying slightly in size from the one below. The nautical theme gives it a different look depending on the angle of the view.

The editors also liked eco-friendly touches, such as design tricks that minimize the chances of birds flying into the glass. The concrete is coated to reduce heat-island temperatures, and the balconies act as shades for units that receive the most sun during the summer.

Loewenberg, himself an architect, endured stinging criticism for his own work. But he knows how to deliver a sellable product, and he wanted an architect to provide a statement building. "We came up with ideas that were within the budget. He was supportive all the way," Gang said.

She said Aqua grew from the same approach she uses for projects closer to the ground. Gang said she worried first about function, then about how the design can best fit a location. She doesn't like architects who force a viewpoint or trademark onto a tract. "Architects should start with an idea, not an icon," Gang said.

Second place in the Emporis standings was a 23-story office tower in Dubai called O14. The work of Reiser + Umemoto Architecture, it uses a concrete sheath punctured with holes to protect the building from the Arabian sun. The third place building was the Met in Bangkok, a 69-story residential tower designed by WOHA Architects that also incorporates energy efficiency.

Trump's Chicago product, officially listed at 98 stories, is the work of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and its former design chief, Adrian Smith, now at his own firm.

Does Gang, still relatively new on the scene and in an overwhelmingly male field, take satisfaction in topping rivals with international renown? She declined the invitation to gloat.

"I just think it's great for Chicago to have two buildings in a ranking like this. Think of all the great buildings done last year all over the world. It shows we're still relevant," she said.
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There's a section with mechanical openings that seems to interrupt the waves just above the middle. I bet the architects were hoping that the waves would simply distract from that. But as one looks closer, it looks like a compromise.

Overall though, it's very impressive in its attempt to do something original with the "box".

Also visible in the photos above: Edward Stone's Aon Centre, reclad with actual stone.