Writing in The New Yorker earlier this year, Paul Goldberger offered his take on the newly opened Aqua, the undulating 82-story skyscraper at 225 North Columbus Drive. The Pulitzer Prize–winning critic loved the building—“ingenious”—and grouped its designer, Jeanne Gang of Chicago’s Studio Gang, among the city’s most illustrious architects, among them Louis Sullivan, John Root, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Recently, Gang discussed a few of the behind-the-scenes details that contributed to Aqua’s success.
Studies of the sun’s position throughout the year determined the balconies’ placements. “In wintertime, when the sun is low, you get the sun coming in when you want it,” says Gang. In the summer, when the sun is higher, the balconies act as shades that keep Aqua cool.
The weave of balconies delineated areas of unshaded glass—Gang calls them “pools”—that were both beautiful and problematic. “After we had created this landscape, we realized there were going to be areas that didn’t have sun screens,” Gang says. To solve that problem, builders used a more reflective glazed glass in those areas to help repel the sun’s heat.
View the gallery below for info on specific aspects of the building.