In a town renowned for its spectacular architecture, the new Aqua Tower has become the latest attraction in Chicago’s skyline. Designed by Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang Architects, the 82-story mixed-use building is much more than the standard straight rectangular glass tower. The contoured façade appears to undulate, rippling between waves of concrete balcony overhangs and organically shaped areas of glass that mirror back the sky.
Although this undulation seems random as if formed by nature, it was designed to serve an environmental purpose. The balcony overhangs shade the interior from the scorching summer sun keeping interior temperatures fairly even, and they protect the building from Chicago’s heavy winds — so much so that the building doesn’t require a tuned mass damper to stabilize it against wind vibrations and sway. Built to LEED certification, Aqua Tower incorporated many other green and energy-efficient features, including an 80,000 square foot rooftop garden and six different types of window glazing to cut solar load on the exposed glass.