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Chicago Architecture: The Aqua Tower and Some of Her Tall Friends

Aug 26, 2020 | Architecture, Chicago, Featured Professional, Featured Projects

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Chicago architecture highlights an icon building, the Aqua Tower, or as her friends call her, “Aqua,” which is a breathtaking visual that one can’t stop looking at. Aqua stands at 876 feet, and her exterior creates waves that seem to move on their own — actually, they are undulating balconies. Aqua was designed by architect Jeanne Gang and  Studio Gang Architects. 

Here are some facts about Aqua: she was built with sustainability in mind, which includes a water-efficient irrigation system and energy-efficient lighting. The balconies are designed to encourage social interaction among neighbors because of the neighboring terraces’ sightline view.

To complete the inner world of Aqua, she contains 55,000 square feet of retail and office space, 215 hotel rooms, 476 residential rental units, 253 condominiums (including penthouses), and 24 elevators. Her green roof is among one of the largest and most iconic in Chicago architecture.

There is also a large spiral staircase that links the tower to a conveniently located public park below. To add to her perfection, the view from just about anywhere on Aqua is spectacular, allowing the spectator to see many of Chicago’s landmarks. Interestingly enough, Chicago architecture is among the tallest around. 

Construction started in 2007 and was completed in 2009. Her address is 225 North Columbus Drive; the cost was $30 million. Her beauty is unique, but her statuesqueness is commonplace in Chicago architecture. Tall and gorgeous, here are some of Aqua’s tall friends. Yes, we noticed they could all be suitors…after all, it is Aqua.


  • Willis Tower: 1,450 feet
  • Trump International Hotel and Tower: 1,362 feet
  • Aon Center (Chicago): 1,136 feet
  • John Hancock Center: 1,127 feet
  • Two Prudential Plaza: 995 feet
  • 311 South Wacker Drive: 961 feet
  • 900 North Michigan: 871 feet
  • Water Tower Place: 859 feet
  • Chase Tower (Chicago): 850 feet
  • Park Tower: 844 feet
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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting