The Aqua Tower in Chicago designed by Jeanne Gang, a visionary architect and thinker.
The Aqua Tower is one of the buildings surrounding Lake Shore East Park, a green oasis in the heart of Chicago.
There are at least six other apartment buildings around this park. They look fine, the usual grid of glass and concrete. They look like average high-rise buildings. They can be found in any major city and you would not give them a second look.
Compared to these plain vanilla buildings the Aqua Tower looks breathtaking, unusual, authentic.
Jeanne Gang figured out a creative way of turning an ordinary apartment building into something that is an aesthetic statement. In her design she used the same materials: glass and concrete. But the results are dramatically different.
That’s because Jeanne Gang has a mission, a purpose, a voice, a point of view and a style.
The other architects were just trying to fit in. They wanted to be safe. They took orders from the client and made something that the client wanted and approved.
Instead of just taking orders, Jeanne Gang helped clients understand what they really needed.
There is a famous quote attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Customers can easily describe a problem they are having. But not the best solution. They want faster horses. They are not yet aware of automobiles.
The client said to Jeanne Gang: I need an apartment building. Jeanne Gang created the Aqua Tower which is much more than just an apartment building. It is a piece of art.
To lead a client to the better solution you need to be a leader. You have to take responsibility.
But here is the thing about responsibility. They don’t give it to you. You take it.