Emporis Selects Chicago's Aqua Tower as 2009
Skyscraper of the Year
February 24, 2010
|Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing
The jury of the Emporis Skyscraper Award named Aqua, an 81-story
residential and hotel tower in Chicago, the winner of its 2009 Skyscraper
of the Year. The award, now celebrating its tenth year, is given
annually to a building at least 100 meters tall and completed within
the award year. The second place winner is O14 in Dubai and third
place went to The Met in Bangkok. All winners were selected from
305 eligible buildings completed worldwide in 2009.
Designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, Aqua intersperses
undulating balconies with flat glassy planes to create a wavy facade
in keeping with its nautical theme. Because each balcony's perimeter
varies slightly from the one below, contractors James McHugh Construction
Co. employed a flexible mold in coordination with GPS. Gang says
the effect has been compared to a rippled curtain or the striated
limestone formations common to the Great Lakes region.
The developer Magellan Development Group LLC has applied for LEED
certification. Viracon supplied the low-E coated insulating glass
in all windows. Frit patterned glass was also used in the railings
to help prevent bird strikes. Aqua is the third-tallest building
in the world designed by a woman - surpassed only by the two Emirates
Towers in Dubai - and is currently the 40th tallest building in
the United States. Aqua has a height of 249.7 meters (819.34 feet)
measured from its main entrance. According to the announcement,
embers of the jury praised Aqua for having a fascinating shape and
appearance that change dramatically depending on the perspective.
It was also cited as a "brilliant technical achievement" for the
precision of its construction, and lauded as an application of green
design innovations to an extremely large building project.
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