Aqua is an 86-story mixed-use residential skyscraper in the Lakeshore East development in downtown Chicago. Designed by a team led by Jeanne Gang, the building is the tallest in the world to have a woman as lead architect, at 859 ft (262 m). It includes one level of parking below ground. The building's eight-story, 140,000 sq ft (13,000 m2) base is topped by a 82,550 sq ft (7,669 m2) terrace with gardens, gazebos, pools, hot tubs, a walking/running track and a fire pit. Each floor covers approximately 16,000 sq ft (1,500 m2). The Aqua was named the Emporis Skyscraper Award 2009 skyscraper of the year and was shortlisted in 2010 for the biannual International Highrise Award.
Aqua is designed by Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang Architects, and it is her first skyscraper project. This is the largest project ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman. Loewenberg & Associates are the architects of record, led by James Loewenberg.
The Aqua Tower is located on the 200 block of North Columbus Drive, and is surrounded by high-rises. To capture views of nearby landmarks for Aqua's residents, Gang stretched its balconies outward by as much as 12 feet (3.7 meters). The result is a building composed of irregularly shaped concrete floor slabs which lend the facade an undulating, sculptural quality. Gang cites the striated limestone outcroppings that are a common topographic feature of the Great Lakes region as inspiration for these slabs.