Q+A WITH JEANNE GANG

In­ter­view by Katya Tyle­vich

Azure - - CONTENTS - Por­trait by Sally Ryan

The Chicago ar­chi­tect on how to build a liv­able city In­ter­view by Katya Tyle­vich

WHILE RUSH­ING THROUGH O’HARE AIR­PORT to catch a flight, Jeanne Gang, found­ing prin­ci­pal of Stu­dio Gang in Chicago and New York, con­sid­ers the im­por­tance of slow­ing down – not in her own prac­tice nec­es­sar­ily, but in how to cat­alyze mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions be­tween strangers. She en­vi­sions build­ings where neigh­bours take the time to talk to one an­other, and cities where in­hab­i­tants value un­hur­ried walks along wa­ter­fronts as much as they do quick drives on high­ways. She also imag­ines these pur­pose­fully en­gaged com­mu­ni­ties to in­clude birds and in­sects. In fact, Gang con­sid­ers the health of hu­man life to be con­tin­gent on the health of nat­u­ral eco­log­i­cal sys­tems, par­tic­u­larly in cities. In 2010, at the age of 46, she com­pleted Aqua Tower, an 82-storey mixed-use build­ing in Chicago whose in­flu­en­tial fa­cade is an ex­per­i­ment in so­cial be­hav­iour. Its asym­met­ri­cal bal­conies were de­signed to en­cour­age res­i­dents to meet one an­other out­side, above street level, and even to fos­ter re­la­tions be­tween neigh­bours on dif­fer­ent floors (a rar­ity within most con­do­mini­ums). Aqua’s suc­cess has led to other build­ings by the firm that em­ploy what’s been dubbed “in­hab­it­able fa­cades,” where bal­conies pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­nec­tion with­out com­pro­mis­ing pri­vacy. In this al­ter­na­tive way of think­ing, ar­chi­tec­ture and ur­ban plan­ning are po­ten­tial an­ti­dotes to the frag­mented and iso­lat­ing city. “In­stead of think­ing of ar­chi­tec­ture

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