Aqua Redux

In the four months since I first posted about Studio Gang's Aqua, sales have commenced and been strong, apparently enough to secure financing for a fall construction start. No doubt the unique design is a strong selling point, hopefully quelling the old preference for living in bland/ugly buildings because "I don't have to look at it."

Also since March a professional model has been built for the sales center. This model includes guardrails and mullions, details missing in the previous study model. These images (taken by BVictor1) were found at SkyscraperPage Forum (full thread here), but the ominous sky is my addition.

Missing image - aqua1.jpg

The very bottom of the image above illustrates how the guardrails break from the contoured slab edge to separate terraces for different units. This functional design response also adds another layer to the contouring of the facade.

Missing image - aqua2.jpg

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that this building will replace the First National Bank Building (now Chase Bank Building) as coolest building to look up at from below.

(Thanks to David G. for the head's up!)


  1. Written in the condo bylaws:

    'Every owner shall keep all their lights on all night, including all balcony lights.'

    C''s still just a pretty picture right now.

  2. Okay....I'm just jealous.
    (I hope they pull it off)

  3. beautiful.. great idea..

  4. lil'g - Every model at every condo sales center in town is illuminated like that. It does make you wonder if the building will have any exterior illumination. If the developer has a billion bucks to spend on this one piece of Lakeshore East, they could light every contour with strip LED lights, a la Riverbend! Though I gotta admit I don't like Riverbend's blue LED.

  5. This building isn't too "unique." I believe Gaudi has been there done this.

  6. That's amazing looking. Hope it comes to fruition.

  7. This building isn't too "unique." I believe Gaudi has been there done this ... and Oscar Niemeyer also ???

  8. So much for a 4 day pour cycle! I love the design concept but i think the envelope will live or die with the detailing. If it can survive the value engineering process intact, it will be very interesting. However, if those slab edges end up exposed concrete without a cladding of some kind, I fear what this thing will look like in 30 years. There's always Marina Towers and River City but I don't think that's what they're going for here.

  9. dave k. - Without a doubt, the underside of the balcony and slab edge will be without a cover, though the question is if it will be painted or exposed. Ironically, the latter is more difficult, requiring more labor and time to clean the formwork so that in its exposed state the concrete is presentable. Painting does give the opportunity to make an interesting pattern for the undersides, a la Steven Holl's window frames at Simmons Hall.

    anon and archiaddict - If we compare this building to the whole history of the built environment, it's not wholly unique, but in comparison to other high rises, especially in Chicago, it's rather unique. As I said in my previous post, the balcony undulations do recall the late Harry Seidler, though he repeated the shapes on every other floor. Here, the undulations create a landscape across the facades, a very different effect that should make this building stand out, particularly from the angles shown here.

  10. are there any elements of Green Architecture intended to be integrated in this design? I'm in the market for a new investment and I believe in the value of my purchase in setting a new trend.

    Top contenders for my dollar...
    1. Aqua
    2. MoMo
    3. SoNo

  11. tainted dragon - I don't know of any specific green features in Aqua's design, except perhaps sunshading from the terraces (even then, the varying contours across the facade means each apartment doesn't receive equal shade on their respective exposures). Given Jeanne Gang's track record with other projects embodying sustainable concerns (the Calumet project comes to mind), I would hope there's an attempt at integration of green design, though Loewenberg is the architect of record (Studio Gang is design architect, meaning they're dealing primarily with its exterior appearance) AND the developer, so there might not be any green features beyond what the city requires with its energy code.

    Comparing Aqua to MoMo and SoNo, there isn't a whole lot of difference as far as green architecture. They're all glass boxes with proper light and ventilation to meet energy code requirements. They most likely have the same or similar mechanical means for heating and cooling. Also, they each probably have some green roof to satisfy the energy code. The easiest green tactic that these may or may not be using is "green materials" such as bamboo for wood floors, low-voc paints, etc. There aren't any specifics on any of the pages indicating this. (Emerald is a project billing itself as green, though it appears to be this color only as far as materials are concerned, not in terms of energy use, passive cooling/heating, etc.)

    So as far as setting a trend with your purchase, any of these would forward the trend of contemporary architecture in the city but maybe only Aqua (and I would stress maybe) would set a precedent towards green architecture.

    The lack of sustainable features in these and other residential high rises has to do with the developers wanting to invest the least amount of money for whatever market they're aiming for. This usually precludes green features that currently have higher up-front costs. Soon those costs will come down and maybe be cheaper than what's now the unsustainable status-quo. But by the time that happens, high rise living might not be as feasible, at least to build.

    I would recommend quizzing the sales people about any green features in the building (materials, green roofs, heating/cooling, "green power", etc.) as I'm basing my comments on cursory glances at their web pages. There might be details not apparent via the internet or not decided upon this early. Also maybe look into Emerald, regardless of the fact their green architecture is relatively shallow. It might just be the greenest you can do today without building your own zero-energy house with Zoka Zola.

  12. much appreciated, John. I did take a look at Emerald. They do have bamboo replacements and reconstructed counter-tops, but they're market value isn't as high as Aqua or MoMo. From Booth/Hansen, I've heard they are attempting a LEED-Silver accreditation approval. I haven't heard back from Studio Gang yet.

  13. Good to hear the Booth Hansen and the developer are pursuing LEED Silver. That's a rarity for most high-rise residential projects.


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