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GPW: Aqua

on May 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm under Project of the Week: 5/9/11

Chicago, IL, USA
80,000 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2009
Aqua at Lakeshore East, LLC
Building Type: Multi-Use
Type: Intensive
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 80,000 sq.ft.
Slope: 2%
Access: Private
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Project Description & Details

Designed to comply with LEED certification, Aqua is a mixed-use residential skyscraper overlooking Harbor Park, the center of the Lakeshore East development on the shores of Lake Michigan, and is setting new heights for innovation and beauty among Chicago skyscrapers.  Each floor of the 82-story tower has an architectonic facade of sensuously swerving white concrete balconies jumping out from amongst its stolid brethren.  Each floor plate is uniquely different, designed to remind viewers of the limestone outcroppings along the Great Lakes.

The 80,000 sf intensive Greenroof-Roofscapes ® System roof garden by Barrett Company capping Aqua’s three-story podium roof provides a naturalistic, eco-friendly landscape that reduces the building’s interior temperature and cooling energy requirements in the summer significantly and reduces winter heat loss.  The swirling garden with paths reminiscent of Robert Burle-Marxe includes native and non-native vegetation of evergreen trees, shrubbery, grasses, deciduous trees, sedum and various annuals of great color and diversity, watered by an efficient drip irrigation system.  Challenges addressed in creating and sustaining Aqua’s rooftop garden included weight limitations and water filtration.  Because of occupied areas below, an International Leak Detection (ILD) system was installed to protect against membrane damage as well as other electric field leakage problems.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Developer and Executive Architect: Todd Wendell, P.M., Loewenberg & Associates
Waterproofing/Greenroof-Roofscapes ® System: Tim Barrett, President, Barrett Co.
Design Architect: Jeanne Gang, AIA, Principal, The Studio Gang
Landscape Architect: Ted Wolff, Wolff Landscape Architecture
Waterproofing Applicator Contractor: Mark Caruso, P.M., Kedmont Waterproofing
Construction Contractor, Sr. Project Manager: Randy Bullard, James McHugh Construction Co.
Landscape Contractor: Patricia Sund, Executive VP, Countryside Industries, Inc.
Electric Field Vector Mapping (EFVM ®): International Leak Detection (ILD)

Architect Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower rises distinctively amongst its modernist Chicago neighbors, and Aqua’s roof deck presents an unparalleled combination of amenities along with its extraordinary topography.  Already considered Chicago’s newest architectural landmark, equally imposing is an amenities package, known as The Shore Club, which is comparable to a world-class resort.  It includes the distinctive 80,000 sf living roof deck – the largest in the city –  with its luxury gardens, gazebos, pools and cabañas, hot tub, running track, fire pit and grills.  Indoors, a 35,000 sf amenity floor provides fitness facilities, an indoor lap pool, a spa featuring a hot tub, sauna, steam and massage room, a basketball court, private club suites with catering kitchens, media room, billiards and game area, business center with conference room, skygarden lounge and concierge services.

Here’s a cool photo of the Aqua greenroof under construction from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, and below it a plan view from Studio Gang Architects, via Metropolis Magazine:

“Gang extruded the floor slabs to enhance views of key sites in the area and analyzed the building’s seasonal sun exposure to optimize their shading potential, then softened the curves for aesthetic effect.”

1: Lake Michigan 0.3 mi; 2: Navy Pier 0.5 mi; 3: Lakeshore East Park 0.1 mi; 4: North Shoreline 1.0 mi; 5: BP Bridge 0.2 mi; 6: Cloud Gate 0.2 mi. ~ Metropolis Magazine

As you probably know by now,  Aqua recently won our “Love the Earth, Plant a Roof! Earth Day Photo Contest” submitted by Linda Smith of Barrett Company, garnishing the most votes in our annual popularity contest for favorite pictures chosen by our readers  of outstanding living roofs on Facebook through the end of April.   Aqua represents a vegetated roof project whose design and function clearly illustrates the concept of “Loving the Earth” through its sustainable design.  Granted, the luxury $4 billion development is not economically viable or sustainable for everyone, though!  But don’t get me wrong – it’s awesome to see healthy environmental design incorporated into high end properties.

“At 82 stories and over 1.9 million sf, Aqua Tower is one of few high-rises in the world that creates a community on its façade.  With a hotel, apartments, condominiums, parking, offices, and one of Chicago’s largest green roofs, this multi-use tower demonstrates both architectural and technical achievements.  Its outdoor terraces””which differ in shape from floor to floor based on criteria such as views, solar shading and dwelling size/type””create a strong connection to the outdoors and the city, as well as form the tower’s distinctive undulating appearance.” ~  Studio Gang Architects

Some of Aqua’s real awards include 2010 International Highrise Award Finalist, Deutsches Architekturmuseum; 2009 Skyscraper of the Year, Emporis; 2009 Annual Design Review Honorable Mention, Architect Magazine; 2009 “Proggy” Award, PETA; and the 2008 American Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design.

Aqua has a large selection of vegetation on the podium greenroof – here’s the Aqua’s entire site Plant List:

Fort McNair Horsechestnut;
Kentucky Coffeetree;
Austrian Pine;
Crimson Pygmy Barberry;
Dwarf Golden Barberry;
Green Velvet Boxwood;
Wintergreen Boxwood;
Cranberry Cotoneaster;
Sea Green Juniper;
Blue Rug Juniper;
Andorra Juniper;
Japanese Kerria;
Gro-low Sumac;
Green Mound Alpine Currant;
Pink Knockout Rose;
Anthony Waterer Spirea;
Goldflame Spirea;
Little Princess Spirea;
Miss Kim Lilac;
Dense Yew;
Hicks Yew;
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass;
Purple Maiden Grass;
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass;
Japanese Blood Grass;

Daylily Mix –  Includes a mix of the following:
Happy Returns Daylily
Summer Wine Daylily
Stella de Oro Daylily;
Palace Purple Coralbells;
Variegated Sweet Iris;
Munstead Lavender;
Russian Sage;
Viette’s Little Suzy Black-eyed Susan;
Goldsturm Black-eyed Susan;
Autumn Joy Sedum.

Aqua is reportedly the world’s tallest building designed by a woman-owned firm (at least in 2009) – make sure to read the article by Blair Kamin in the Chicago Tribune here, where you can see his YouTube video of the site under construction – photo below:

Also, you can see a more recent video and read more about the Aqua in the June 29, 2010 “Finding Home – the hidden neighborhood of Lakeshore East” blog post by Rochelle Vayo Adkinson in Chicago Now here, photo below.

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.



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