by: chicago designslinger
[Aqua (2010) Studio Gang Architects, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Just over a month ago, the MacArthur Foundation announced the winners of their $500,000 2011 fellowship grants, and Jeanne Gang, only the 4th architect to receive the honor out of the 850 given so far, became a fellow. To date, Aqua, which opened its doors in 2010, is the internationally recognized crown jewel in the Studio Gang portfolio.
[Aqua, 225 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Aqua's undulating sensuality is home to offices, condo dwellers, apartment renters and a soon to open hotel. The building became an instant Chicago landmark, and put Jeanne Gang and the Studio on the pop culture map.
[Aqua, Illinois Center, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
It's hard to believe that this building, or any of the others in the cluster of structures just north of Millennium Park, sits on a site, that just 40 years ago, was a closed down railyard. In the 1850s the Illinois Central Railroad established an 83-acre railyard just east of Michigan Avenue along the lakefront and the main branch of the Chicago River. By the 1920s the railroad realized that the land was too valuable to have it just sitting there moving around freight, when the company decided it was ripe for development. After a few fits and starts, things really got rolling in the mid 60s when hearings were held on the sale of air rights for the future Illinois Center. The project was envisioned to take 30 years to complete, and 40 years later there are still a few holes waiting to be filled, before the entire project reaches capacity. Joining a cluster of Mies van der Rohe's meticulously detailed high-rise towers within the Center's original boundaries, Aqua's undulating facade has introduced a new-wave architectural vocabulary into the muiti-acre development.