'Genius' Fellow designs 'humane, livable' skyscrapers

Jeanne Gang, named a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, designs beauty, sustainability into her skyscrapers. Check out her most impressive work in downtown Chicago.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

It doesn't take a genius to understand the importance of skyscrapers in a dense urban environment. It also doesn't take a genius to realize we should build our skyscrapers in more sustainable ways. But it does take a genius to make it happen, someone like Jeanne Gang.

The architect and founder of Studio Gang in Chicago is one of 22 innovators and thought leaders named this year's MacArthur "Genius" Fellows. Fellows receive $500,000 to support their ambitions over the next five years with no strings attached.

And It will be interesting to see what Gang does during those five year because her accomplishments are already huge (literally).

Just take a look at her most highly-acclaimed building. Known as "Aqua," its poetic undulating balconies flow up 82 stories in this mixed-use skyscraper in downtown Chicago.

Aqua, which the Chicago Tribune called one of Chicago's "boldest — and best — skyscrapers in years," is also a green wonder. It has heat-resistant and fritted glass, rainwater collection systems, and energy-saving lighting.

But perhaps its greenest feature is that it's largely a residential tower. While there is hotel and retail space, the majority of Aqua consists of apartments, townhouses, and condos. This allows a large number of people to live on a very small land footprint near the places they work and shop. Along with being connected to transit, the location and density greatly reduce the need for cars.

Hear from Beck herself on her architectural philosophy and what she plans to do with the money.

Photo 1: francesco.chillari/Flickr

Photo 2: Courtesy the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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