Aqua Tower in Chicago.
Photo: Steve Hall/Hall + Merrick

8 Sculptural Buildings by the Boundary-Pushing Architecture Firm Studio Gang

Helmed by architect Jeanne Gang, the firm devises structures that are visually spectacular and environmentally aware

Studio Gang’s new book, Architecture (Phaidon). Photo: Studio Gang

Known for conjuring sculptural buildings that are both visually arresting and highly contextual, Jeanne Gang has vaulted to the top of contemporary American architecture. She was the only architect to be named on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential list last year, and she’s won a smattering of honors, among them the prestigious Louis I. Kahn Memorial Award and the Architecture Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt.

The Illinois-born architect founded her namesake practice, Studio Gang, in 1997 and rose to international prominence several years later with the completion of Chicago’s scintillating Aqua Tower. In the male-dominated world of architecture, the project caused a stir for being the tallest building ever to be designed by a woman. Soon Gang will smash her own record with the 1,196-foot-tall Vista Tower, which is currently under construction in the same city. These are just two of the remarkable projects featured in the new Phaidon book Studio Gang: Architecture, which captures 25 of the firm’s most dazzling works—both built and unbuilt.

“We have been very busy making architecture, in this broad sense, for the past 20 years,” Gang writes. “But every so often it is important to pause and reflect on the work that has been made and enable it to be seen. This book provides that opportunity.” Indeed, the firm has organized the monograph into six chapters by theme with introductions by Gang. Each building is accompanied by sketches (there are some 300 in the book) and text that explains her philosophy, which is rooted in a reverence for both nature and history. For instance, the inspiration for the modernist Writers Theatre, which is composed of glass and timber trusses, comes from the Tudor-style architecture of the surrounding village of Glencoe, Illinois.

Looking forward, a number of high-profile projects are nearing the finish line, including 11 Hoyt in Brooklyn, a new wing of Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural History that features cavernlike interiors, and a global terminal for Chicago O’Hare International Airport. See below for a selection of the standout buildings from the book:

Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois. Photo: Steve Hall/Hall+Merrick

A rendering of the studio’s redesign of Paris’s Tour Montparnasse. Photo: Studio Gang/Labtop


10 of the Most Beautiful Train Stations in the World

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in Chicago. Photo: Steve Hall/Hall + Merrick

Vista Tower in Chicago. Photo: Tom Harris/Courtesy Studio Gang

The Arcus Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Photo: Steve Hall/Hall + Merrick

40 Tenth Avenue, aka Solar Carve, in New York. Photo: Nic Lehoux

Chicago’s Aqua Tower. Photo: Steve Hall/Hall + Merrick

The Bengt Sjostrom Theatre is an outdoor community theater located on the Rock Valley College campus in Rockford, Illinois. Photo: Greg Murphey

Cover: Aqua Tower in Chicago.
Photo: Steve Hall/Hall + Merrick


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