The Aqua Tower

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words Johanna Agerman

The Aqua Tower is an 82-storey mixed-use skyscraper in Chicago which opens next month. Each floor of the tower – designed by local firm Studio Gang – has a different footprint, giving it a rippled look. “We didn’t want to repeat the floors, instead they are arranged in strata. You could imagine that the floors have been eroded, not from water and time, but instead by the use of computer programs and daylight,” says Studio Gang founder Jeanne Gang.

The Aqua Tower includes apartments, retail and a hotel. It’s part of the Lakeshore East development, which overlooks Chicago’s new Millennium Park and Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion on one side, and the Chicago River and the Tribune Tower on the other. “We were trying to get these sightlines all around the building and create views wrapping around the corners,” says Gang of the bulging balconies, which mostly obscure the glass curtain wall. “You see these pools of reflective glass from far away, but the appearance changes as you get closer.”

Seen from the perspective of the river, the Aqua Tower appears ethereal in comparison to the squat Miesian skyscrapers surrounding it. The tower’s slender shape and undulating, wrap-around balconies give it a sense of lightness that its neighbours lack.


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