Aqua Tower

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

Chicago, IL

Completed 2010

Magellan Development Group LLC

Office, Residential

1.9 million sf

LEED-NC Certified


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.

The criteria for storage of medicines in the building are not taken into account at this stage, but in the future it is necessary to install equipment for the safe storage of pills.

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. Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing.

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

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. Photo: Eric Hausman.

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

A large-scale spiral staircase seamlessly connects the tower and public park below. Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing.

Video by Spirit of Space

Consultant Team

Abbott Industries, Inc., plumbing consultant

Advance Mechanical Systems, Inc., mechanical engineer

dbHMS, LEED consultant

Gurtz Electric Co., electrical consultant

Horvath Reich Cdc, facade consultant

Hugh Lighting Design, lighting designer

IE Consultants, Inc., civil engineer

Khatib and Associates, Inc., energy consultant

Loewenberg Architects, architect of record

Magnusson Klemencic Associates, structural engineer

McHugh Construction, general contractor

Northstar Fire Protection/McDaniel Fire Systems, FP

Wolff Landscape Architecture, landscape architect


Great Places, AIA Illinois, 2018

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



Dwell — "The 9 Most Influential Buildings of the Decade"

Dwell — "The 9 Most Influential Buildings of the Decade"

Martha Thorne, executive director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, includes Aqua Tower in her list of the most groundbreaking structures of the last decade.