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CHICAGO-James McHugh Construction Co., the company that built the ground-breaking Marina City corncob-style condominiums 40 years ago, is now set to take more design chances with the 82-story Aqua building. The company was named the general contractor of the tower, which will feature condominiums, apartments, an 18-floor hotel, retail and office space.

Like Marina City, seen as one of Chicago’s most successful landmarks, the Aqua project will include a few unusual design challenges, says McHugh senior vice president Dave Alexander. The project includes a wavy concrete exterior, and will be occupied by commercial and residential tenants as the upper floors are completed.

“The perimeter of the building is different on every single floor,” Alexander tells GlobeSt.com. “The framing of each floor will be difficult, as the balconies will be cantilevered off of the column line, and cannot hold support for upper floors.”The company will use a high-flying form system that attaches to the column and core wall to complete each floor, Alexander says.

The 2.2-million-sf project will also have multiple tenant uses coming online at the same time, bringing the requirements of residential, commercial and office tenants while the construction crews are still building the upper floors, Alexander says. “This rarely happens, but I think with the taller buildings it will become more common, you’ll see it at the Trump International Tower in Chicago before our project,” Alexander says. “Moving construction crews around tenants is challenging, we have to handle noise, dust, and even separating vertical transportation, they can’t use the same elevators. Safety is also a huge concern, as is keeping water out of the building, basically the top of the building is open during construction.”

The tower, expected to be compete by 2009, is a development of Lakeshore East LLC, an affiliate of Magellan Development Group LLC. To support the building, the team will drill more than 300 caissons into the site, while working around more than 1,100 linear feet of Chicago’s famed underground fright tunnels.

The Aqua building is a mixed-use residential building in Magellan’s 28-acre Lakeshore East development across North Columbus Drive and adjacent to the Strategic Hotels’ Fairmont Chicago property.

Aqua’s hotel is being developed by Strategic as well, and will include 200 hotel suites and 30,000 feet of meeting and event space, and will connect to the Fairmont. The hotel portion of Aqua will consist of approximately 200 luxury suites averaging 650 sf each, a 20,000-sf glazed ballroom with outdoor terrace space overlooking Lakeshore East Park, boardrooms and other general hotel support facilities.

Studio/Gang/Architects is the design architect, headed by Jeanne Gang, with Loewenberg Architects serving as architect of record. McHugh has built eight high-rise structures for Magellan.

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