Who to Watch at Chicago Ideas Week: Jeanne Gang

Keeping in line with our objective, we've highlighted another influential speaker to consider at the upcoming Chicago Ideas Week.

In this profile: Jeanne Gang
Accolades:  Jeanne Gang is a genius, or the MacArthur Foundation believes so - she won a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” award this September. She’s the founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, a rising international practice whose work confronts pressing contemporary issues. Her work includes the Aqua Tower, the Northerly Island framework plan, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, and Columbia College Chicago’s Media Production Center. She also continues to teach, most recently at her alma mater: the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Why you should care: Most know Gang’s work from Aqua, an 82-story residential tower in Chicago that opened in early 2010. Aqua, the tallest constructed building designed by a firm headed by a female, is that cool building with the undulating balconies that graces Chicago’s lakefront skyline. Gang has called the building’s exterior 'an inhabited facade' and, as its name suggests, it has a liquid appearance. Take a look - it really emulates water.
For Gang, water seems to be a theme. She’s one of the designers of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to improve access to the Chicago River with four boathouses on stretches of the waterway. As of this winter, the city plans to spend equal shares of public funds and private donations to build the structures, estimated at about $4 million. Gang and architect Chris Lee will design the boathouses with students from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and they’ll include boat landings and rented concessions now offered by private business owners.
Come to see how she deals with rapid success at an early age (Gang is in her 40s). It comes with a price: Gang and her business partner/husband, Mark Schendel, have very little free time. She's been quoted as saying she and Schendel are far too busy to remember what transpired over the weekend. 
Act now – units in Aqua are still available for sale and rent. They aren’t cheap, but you could own a unit designed by a genius.
When you can see her: October 10th, 2011, Chicago History Museum, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM.


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