Is there such thing as a Feminine Architecture? I remember an achitectural critic posing this question, while I was a student. Unfortunatley I can't remember who it was. But seeing this new Chicago building, called Aqua by Jeanne Gang, made me think that yes, absolutely there is such a thing.
This tower is unique because it is not focused on the verticality or monumentality of a typical skyscraper. Ms. Gang uses thin concrete balconies almost as countour lines in a map, to create undulating waves which become the surface of the building. The soft, accommodating form of this tower differs fundimentally from the more, hard edged, phallic like, archetype of a skyscraper. Thus argueably creating the first feminie skyskraper. As Paul Golberger points out in his article in the New Yorker Magazine, Ms Gang's use of curved forms has more to do with function, and less to do with whim, or a fascination with using unique shapes generated by
high tech computer programs. The undulating surface actually acts to break up and difuse the notoriously high winds of Chicago, eliminating the need for a device which stabilizes most tall builings against the sway and vibrations caused by winds. The difusion of the wind also allows for balconies on all floors of the builing. A typical skyscraper doesn't have balconies above 60 or 70 stories because the winds are usually too strong at that height.
I am totally enamored of this building. It has gotten my attention by not being an attention grabber.
photos from Studio Gang
As soon as I saw Aqua, I immediately thought of the fashon designs by Leanne from Season 5 of Project Runway. Her designs are so architectural, yet they are flowing and not stiff or linear. Leanne's fashions and Aqua have a similar understated and feminine beauty.
I love the shapes and the colors of these creations. Obviously they have less to do with functionality than Jeanne Gang's Aqua Tower, but I think they share an optimistic, architectural outlook.