Boulevard Towers in Chicago by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is a magnificent specimen of modern minimalism. Designed by a master at the height of his practice, the facade of the building is buttressed by standard w-section steel members, welded vertically the entire height of the building. Their architectural affect is stunning in its simple beauty, both utterly functional and visually pleasing. As the father of the skyscraper, Meis is even more remarkable in his courageous and novel approach to building of his era. He was active at a time when these new technologies of steel frame construction and curtain walls were just gaining widespread use. His pioneering and elegant ingenuity set in place a hugely influential movement of minimal, functional grace in architecture.
Aqua is designed by Jeanne Gang, principle and founder of Studio Gang Architects, and it is the firm’s first skyscraper project. This is the largest project ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman. It is another example of modern technology being implemented in a way that shapes the building’s form. This time it is the technology of computer aided drafting. Each floor plate of the tower has a unique and curvilinear plan, something made possible by the availability of NURBS-based drawing software. Computer aided (CAD) drafting began as a digital version of the traditional drafting table–simply a faster and easier way to edit the same kind of drawing. As the technology has improved, however, it has allowed architects to visualize, generate, and quantify forms and combinations of material that were never before possible. No longer are we simply using a new tool to produce the same artifacts of the previous generation. We are pushing the new tools to produce objects that are suited to the new paradigm