Sculptured for sun and shade

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In Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, one woman is setting new tones in the skyline. The apartment house Solstice on the Park from architect Jeanne Gang proves that the fusion of a high-rise building and climate-friendly construction is possible. The facade cladding of concrete skin anchors the building in the surrounding municipal area.

The name speaks for itself: Jeanne Gang gave her new tower block in the Hyde Park district in the South Side of Chicago the name Solstice. It is not the highest building from the renowned architect that substantially contributes to the new look of the city, which the poet Carl Sandburg once called „City of the Big Shoulders“. But it is one that is exemplary of the ambition in the Studio Gang to reconcile ecology, architectural character, integration into the surrounding urban context and sensuality.

Solstice on the Park perfectly combines the aspirations of the most innovative and current architecture and design studio with Rieder’s company philosophy of consistently viewing innovation, sustainability and design as one entity and providing designers with materials to extend their fields of action and to shoulder the diverse requirements of present and future.

The significant form of the building was conceived using sun diagrams: On the south facade the glazing is inwardly inclined and optimally aligned to the angle of incidence of the sun. On the day of the solstice it has 72 degrees on Chicago’s latitude, meaning that the high sun in the hottest season of the year does not penetrate the building thanks to the glass surface inclined at the same angle, reducing energy required to cool the building. On the contrary at low sun in winter the solar advantage is maximised in the same way and the sunlight can penetrate far into the open floor plan of the adjoining living space.

The facade cladding of concrete skin from Rieder plays a significant role in the harmonious relationship between the attractive residential high-rise and its environment. Over 4000 square metres of the 13 millimetre thin panels made of non-combustible glassfibre reinforced concrete cover the construction of pre-stressed reinforced concrete.  The texture and colour of the panels made of mineral resources are in aesthetic harmony with the character of the district characterised by sandstone and brick tones. The dark shade liquid black highlights the muscular property of the structure, gentle beige from sandstone and sahara, which corresponds well with the high number of wooden surfaces on the interior provides a cosy atmosphere.

Architects should be „Relationship Builders“ claims Jeanne Gang meaning that she would like to contribute to building relationships through her buildings – in both a social and an ecological sense. This concept of relationship creation as the moving force for design is not only true for Solstice on the Park with regard to solar energetic advantages. The incline makes the tree crowns appear even closer and larger and provides a maximum view thanks to enlarged glass surfaces. Depending on the situation of the apartment, there are spectacular views of the Museum of Science and Jackson Park to the south, to the lake and the breathtaking skyline: „Form follows Function“ in the finest Chicago tradition.

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