Gaines Group Architects

7. The Aqua Tower in Chicago #105architecturalinspiration

This 82 story tall Chicago mixed-use residential building  has a fluid contour facade creating unique balconies for every apartment. The Aqua Tower includes floor-to-ceiling windows, clean lines, and Chicago’s largest outdoor recreation deck. 


The structure was designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects with James Loewenberg & Associates as the Architect of Record.

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The form of the concrete slabs is incredible with each level of the building taking a different shape, almost like the ripples across a pond. The project had high sustainability goals including rainwater harvesting, energy-efficiency, and Chicago’s largest green roof.

Aqua Tower in Chicago

The design of the building does bring into question the struggle between form and function. While the beauty of the design is unmistakable, the building science creates issues that remain unanswered. Thermal bridging of the concrete in the cold winter months and the large amount of glass are in contradiction with the climate of Chicago. The balconies do have an insulating paint to help prevent energy issues, however, based on the thermal images posted on Building Science Corporation’s website, this solution is not adequate. I love the form, a truly brilliant architectural creation, despite the lack of attention to building science, this still makes my list of architectural inspirations.

Aqua Tower in Chicago

#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian

5. Lighthouses

6. Hatch Show Prints