Inside Studio Gang Architects Exhibit Features Works By Celebrated Chicago Firm

The Studio Gang-designed Aqua Tower is featured in the Art Institute exhibit celebrating the Chicago-based firm.

When the City Hyde Park mixed-use development (1501 East Hyde Park Boulevard) is completed in 2014, residential units will boast an innovative balcony construction without external bracing. The result will be column-free views and balconies extending farther from the building.

The creative design of the South Side project is typical of the work of Studio Gang Architects (SGA). City Hyde Park and a dozen other SGA projects are featured in an Art Institute of Chicago exhibit that runs through February 24th.

A key theme of the exhibit is creative problem solving through architecture and design. For example, builders and architects have long struggled with the problem of bird strikes on transparent surfaces of glass buildings. SGA performed a far-reaching study to determine the relationship of birds with the urban environment. SGA worked with bird experts and helped develop widely used bird-safe building guidelines.



Also featured in the exhibit Aqua at Lakeshore East (225 North Columbus Drive). I recall the first time I saw the oddly-shaped surfaces of the 82-story building while walking up East Randolph Street. The balconies look like waves, wrapping around the building. Each one offers residents with views of their neighbors, allowing them to meet and chat.

SGA was formed in 1997 by Jeanne Gang and Mark Schendel. The exhibit celebrates their work past and present. It’s divided into four themes: Building Nature, Building Community, Building Density and Building Performance.

Not all the projects featured in the exhibit are buildings. Take for example the Northerly Island renovation. SGA submitted a plan to the city for the 91-acre peninsula that would create five different ecosystems at different elevations, and an offshore underwater habitat.

“Inside Studio Gang Architects” can be seen on level 2 of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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