Aqua Tower


Built 2010

Magellan Development Group LLC

Office, Residential

1.9 million sf

Certified LEED-NC


At 82 stories, reaching a height of 876 feet, Aqua Tower is one of few tall buildings to create a community on its facade. 

Combining a hotel, offices, rental apartments, condominiums, and parking, along with one of Chicago’s largest green roofs, Aqua facilitates strong connections between people and to the city.

The design for Aqua uses architecture to capture and reinterpret the human and outdoor connections that occur more naturally when living closer to the ground. Its distinctive form is achieved by varying the floor slabs across the height the tower, based on criteria such as views, sunlight, and use.

Strategically sculpting the shape of each floor slab offers comfortable outdoor terraces, where neighbors can casually and comfortably interact when desired, as well as views to Chicago landmarks, navigating sight lines around the corners and through the gaps between existing buildings. The overall design is the cumulative result of responses to specific conditions of density, environment, and use.

Sightlines between neighboring terraces encourage social connections.

Borrowing from the characteristics of terrestrial topography, the tower was imagined as a vertical landscape made up of hills, valleys, and pools.

Independent parameters combine to create Aqua’s architecture.

Aqua’s green roof is one of the largest in Chicago. Its features include a water-efficient irrigation system.

A large-scale spiral staircase seamlessly connects the tower and public park below.

Video by Spirit of Space

Consultant Team

Abbott Industries, Inc., plumbing

Advance Mechanical Systems, Inc., mechanical engineering


Gurtz Electric Co., electrical

Horvath Reich Cdc, facade

Hugh Lighting Design, lighting

IE Consultants, Inc., civil engineering

Khatib and Associates, Inc., energy

Loewenberg Architects, architect of record

Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural engineering

McHugh Construction, general contractor

Northstar Fire Protection/McDaniel Fire Systems, fire protection

Wolff Landscape Architecture, landscape architect


International Highrise Award Finalist, Deutsches Architekturmuseum, 2010

Honor Award, Distinguished Building, AIA Chicago, 2010

Skyscraper of the Year, Emporis, 2009

Annual Design Review Honorable Mention, Architect Magazine, 2009

“Proggy” Award, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 2009

American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum, 2008



New York magazine — “Who Wants a Supertall Skyline”

“The architectural challenge of supertall buildings is to accommodate humans in structures of inhuman scale. I can think of three architects who have pulled off that trick at heights of 800 feet or more. In Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower in Chicago, undulating concrete balconies recall Sullivan’s geometric traceries, animating the façades with ripples.”