The unique Aqua mixed-use tower at Lakeshore East in Chicago has captured the acclaimed international Emporis Skyscraper Award for 2009.
The award is considered the world’s top honor for high-rise architecture and has been presented annually since 2000 to new skyscrapers “that show outstanding architectural design and functionality.”
Officials at Emporis, a German-based company that specializes in collecting information about public and commercial buildings and has a database of hundreds of thousands of buildings worldwide, said Aqua was “the decisive favorite of our jury, which selected it by a clear margin over the second place winner.”
Recently completed at 225 N. Columbus Dr. on the west end of the 28-acre Lakeshore East community being developed by Magellan Development Group, the 82-story mixed-use tower is believed to be the tallest skyscraper ever designed by an architectural team headed by a woman
Aqua was designed by Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio/Gang Architects and Loewenberg Architects, architect of record.
Aqua’s design has been described as one of the best and boldest additions to the Chicago skyline in years. Of particular note are Aqua’s balconies that flow around the tower like ocean waves and appear to create variously shaped towers within the tower.
Emporis officials said that because it specializes in collecting a large database of buildings in all countries and keeps track of skyscraper projects around the world it is uniquely qualified to select the best candidates for the Emporis Award from a complete listing of eligible skyscrapers.
It defines a skyscraper as an enclosed building divided into multiple floors with a height of at least 100 meters (300 ft). The award jury is comprised of 30 international senior editors of Emporis, 12 of whom are from the United States.
Aqua is the first Chicago and third U.S. structure to win the Emporis Skyscraper Gold Award. Other winners in chronological order from 2000 include: Sofitel New York Hotel, One Wall Center in Vancouver, Kingdom Center in Riyadh, 30 St. Mary Axe in London, Taipei 101 in Taipei, Hearst Tower in New York City, Het Strijkijzer in The Hague and Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower I in Tokyo.
The Aqua’s recently completed condominium component, which rises from the 53rd to the 82nd floor – starting at a height where most Chicago condo penthouses begin – offers an array of residences ranging from studios to penthouses.
A village in the heart of downtown Chicago steps from Michigan Avenue, Lakeshore East is believed to be the largest parcel of downtown land under development in a major U.S. city.
This mixed-use development in the rapidly growing New East Side incorporates all the elements of a traditional city neighborhood, a lifestyle center that includes homes, retail, recreational opportunities and community amenities such as a public park and a planned elementary school.
It is situated near the confluence of three of Chicago’s biggest attractions – Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and Millennium Park. Its master plan completes the ambitious Illinois Center development.