Top of the Morning: Aqua Tower

May 2, 2014 (CHICAGO)

To call the Aqua Tower unique is a vast understatement. Seemingly defying the laws of physics, the structure actually seems to move.

"From far away it looks much different than when you stand right underneath and look up," Juliane Wolf of Studio Gang Architects said.

The Aqua Tower is the brainchild of Jeannie Gang and her "studio gang" architecture firm. They wanted to create a different kind of skyscraper.

"The whole idea is that to make it interesting, make it inhabitable," said Jeannie Gang, "so people could actually be on the outside of this building so that when you walk by this building as a pedestrian you see something three-dimensional."

The 82-story Aqua is a multi-purpose wonder containing condos, rental units and a hotel, all with unbelievable views.

"We've got balconies all over the place that face all different directions," said Jim Loewenberg, developer. "Nobody's views are impeded. Great views, great amenities."

"You can look up and diagonally and see your neighbors," added Juliane Wolf. "You can look down and see your neighbors. It creates a sort of vertical community along the façade of the building."

The building has been an overwhelming success. Sustainability was an important factor in Aqua's design. Gang and her team refined the terrace extensions to maximize solar shading, and other sustainable features will include rainwater collection systems and energy-efficient lighting. It's fully-occupied and is winning all types of awards, including Skyscraper of the Year. It's been called a structure of the future and is helping maintain Chicago's place as an architectural trendsetter.

"We don't just look from the exterior and are going to make something recognizable but something that works on many different levels," said Wolf, "that works for the user and works environmentally and that works for the city as a whole."

"We've been the leader in architecture in the U.S. for probably 100 years and this is just the latest building of what we hope will be many more," Loewenberg said.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.