New York may be getting BLUE but Chicago is entering into the realm of AQUA. Studio Gang's foray into high-rise architecture -- part of the Lakeshore East development -- goes by the monicker Aqua, though its concept is less about the word in a color sense as it is about waves and their appearance. Take a look (model images found here).
While the accuracy of the images circulating the internet has been both debunked and thoroughly debated, the concept is clear: a glass box with cantilevered terraces of varying depths and shapes. By varying the curves gradually up the building, a vertical "terrain" is created, or more accurately a stop-motion of the tides (perhaps a more appropriate name for the building but one taken by James Loewenberg on another piece of the Lakeshore East puzzle). Given that this model is paper and the real thing will be concrete and glass, the evocative image echoing Lake Michigan should be strong.
This concept of repeated and varied parallel planes reminds me of the winning entry for "Another Glass House" competition in the early 90s, where people were asked to rethink Philip Johnson's seminal Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The 1st place entry used a series of tightly spaced, parallel panes of glass to define the extents of the house, with varying cutouts defining the interior spaces. This high-rise project is an inversion of that, the interior box already defined, but the terrace edges varied to create a textured facade.
Given the lackluster designs of other Lakeshore East projects, this building should be an exciting addition to a part of Chicago slowly taking shape.
Update 03.13: Blair Kamin praises Aqua at length in Sunday's Tribune, saying it "could be Chicago's most sensuous skyscraper."