Totaling over 186,000 sm, Aqua Tower is an 82-story mixed-use high-rise in downtown Chicago that includes a hotel, apartments, condominiums, parking and offices. As a “topographic` tower, Aqua’s sculpted facade was designed to make unexpected views possible from different parts of the structure. ‘Hills’ created on the building’s vertical surfaces allow sightlines that connect to specific Chicago landmarks to exist around the corners of and through the gaps between existing buildings. The resulting large terraces make it possible for residents to inhabit the façade of the building and the city at the same time. These terraces also work to shade the glass and provide a foil to wind pressure, two significant concerns for high-rise towers. Overall, the tower’s east-west orientation maximizes its winter solar performance, while its balconies extend further on the southern façade to provide shading, reducing solar exposure in summer and allowing passive heating in winter. In addition to low-e coatings on all glass, the design team modeled seasonal sun patterns to identify remaining areas of glass that needed higher performance glazing to increase energy efficiency throughout the tower. Glass on the east and south façades are reflective in areas without a protective balcony, while glass facing west has a tinted coating that improves its shading coefficient. In total, Aqua employs six different types of glass: clear, tinted, reflective, spandrel, and translucent. Fritted glass is also used and combined with handrail design to minimize bird strikes. Among the building’s notable features is the green roof terrace atop its plinth"which at 7,000 sm is one of Chicago’s largest"that contains an outdoor pool, running track, gardens, fire pits and yoga terrace. The plinth quietly navigates the site’s complexity by spanning over pre-existing elements, such as an electrical substation, and by aligning with existing infrastructure, including an adjacent three-level roadway. By designing stairs, elevators and pedestrian walkways that link street level to park level to lakefront, Aqua’s 738 households are brought within walking distance of employment, cultural, recreational, and educational activities, reducing reliance on driving and improving the convenience and quality of urban dwelling.


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Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via
  • added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via
  • justinbrunn
    justinbrunn commented
    Beautiful bldg but was also told that this was the tallest building designed by a female architect. Know if this is true!
    about 7 years ago via iPhone