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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 14, 2019, 11:57 PM
Engineerding Engineerding is offline
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Balconies, design vs livability

A question I have. Balconies seem to be universally hated when it comes to tower design here. Any tower with them, people would rather it didn’t.

But when it comes to living in a tower, I can’t imagine not having one. It’s great to be able to go outside without a trek downstairs.


At the end of the day, which one is more important?
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:00 AM
jtown,man jtown,man is offline
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Originally Posted by Engineerding View Post
A question I have. Balconies seem to be universally hated when it comes to tower design here. Any tower with them, people would rather it didn’t.

But when it comes to living in a tower, I can’t imagine not having one. It’s great to be able to go outside without a trek downstairs.


At the end of the day, which one is more important?
The classic American individual vs. the common good.

Good question, I have no answer lol
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:04 AM
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I certainly don't universally hate balconies on skyscrapers.

In the hands of a skilled architect they can be very strong design elements.


Source: https://images.adsttc.com/media/imag...jpg?1414426108



Source: https://sgcweb.s3.wasabisys.com/bdcn...?itok=LS3quyVb


Full disclosure: I was a Marina City resident for 6 years and loved the shit outta my giant balcony.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:11 AM
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It's not so much we hate balconies it's just that 99% of the time they're a design after thought so it ends up looking terrible.

I would live perfectly fine without one, especially if my building had say rooftop access and if there were public parks nearby and I wouldn't consider an elevator ride a "trek". There's not much you can really do on average balconies anyway. I guess they're essential if you're a smoker, a private rooftop seems a thousand times better than any cramped balcony on a high-rise though.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:30 PM
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It's not so much we hate balconies it's just that 99% of the time they're a design after thought so it ends up looking terrible.

I would live perfectly fine without one, especially if my building had say rooftop access and if there were public parks nearby and I wouldn't consider an elevator ride a "trek". There's not much you can really do on average balconies anyway. I guess they're essential if you're a smoker, a private rooftop seems a thousand times better than any cramped balcony on a high-rise though.
I take the elevator 6 times a day even if I "stay home" all day long due to taking my dog out. It is a trek. Sometimes it takes 3-5 minutes to get an elevator due to rush hour.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:33 PM
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I take the elevator 6 times a day even if I "stay home" all day long due to taking my dog out. It is a trek. Sometimes it takes 3-5 minutes to get an elevator due to rush hour.
This is why I prefer low floors and no doormen. I don't want to deal with elevators or mandatory chit-chat.

I also don't get balconies, which are useless except for storing bikes. Terraces make sense, standard balconies are ugly garbage.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:45 PM
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I've lived on the 30th floor with a balcony for years and I can probably count on two hands how many times I've been out there for more than 10 minutes. Usually they're too narrow to have a big enough table for more than 4 people. If I want to read outside I'll go to the lakeside park 5 minutes away. 90% of its use is for smoking if I'm having people over and I definitely would not count that as an essential component of the livability of the place.

Developers in Toronto are still building balconies on 60+ floor buildings. Anything above a ~12th floor terrace is useless to me.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:51 PM
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I have two minds of the balcony issue. They can be a nice amenity providing they area actually large enough to be a usable space, such as the ones on Marina City (and many older, more banal buildings). But, often times they are so tiny as to be unusable and simply listed as an amenity for the sake of it. I'm not particularly afraid of heights but the thought of being on a postage stamp sized one 50+ floors up isn't too appealing.

Often times "artistic" balconies, even when they do add legitimate design appeal, fall in the tiny, unusable category.

And yeah, when I lived in even a smaller highrise I found the elevator a trek, and is honestly the limiting factor for me wanting to live in one. Generally the older I get the less appealing it is to me. Friends who live 40+ storeys up in brand new buildings have a litany of horror stories about elevator issues which doesn't help. Particularly given the elevator tech shortage here right now.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:53 PM
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I've lived on the 30th floor with a balcony for years and I can probably count on two hands how many times I've been out there for more than 10 minutes. Usually they're too narrow to have a big enough table for more than 4 people. If I want to read outside I'll go to the lakeside park 5 minutes away. 90% of its use is for smoking if I'm having people over and I definitely would not count that as an essential component of the livability of the place.


i lived on the 33rd floor of marina city for 6 yeas and used my giant balcony (175 SF) all the time.

the single most important aspect of balconies is being able to grill. if you're not a griller, then that removes a large chunk of the reason for having them.

my balcony was also big enough to have a table and chairs for 8, so it was great for having people over, especially smokers.

it also had a great view looking west down the river canyon, so it was the perfect spot to chill with a book and a beer and enjoy some fresh air.

and watching thunderstorms out there was THE BEST!



i really do miss my highrise balcony. but now that i'm a family man, i would not want to do the highrise living thing with young children. kudos to those that do it though!
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Aug 15, 2019 at 2:27 PM.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 1:58 PM
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Very few places here let you have a barbecue on the balcony. Mine provides commercial-grade barbecues on the common terrace level, so I'll go down sometimes and cook up 6 chicken breasts or whatever at once.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:05 PM
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Very few places here let you have a barbecue on the balcony..
that's unfortunate. grilling is at least 50% of the reason for even having a balcony in the first place.




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Mine provides commercial-grade barbecues on the common terrace level, so I'll go down sometimes and cook up 6 chicken breasts or whatever at once.
my wife's old highrise condo in the west loop was like that. it was my least favorite aspect of her building. i hated lugging all of the food and grilling stuff down the hall, onto the elevator, and down to the common area terrace, just to grill some meat. and god forbid if you forgot the marinade or something else upstairs or if the two grill stations were already being used by others.

at marina city, when i wanted to grill, i simply stepped out onto my balcony, fired up the grill, and then grilled my meat. the logistics of food prep and clean-up were an order of magnitude easier having the grill and my kitchen separated by just 15 feet, instead of 150 feet and an 11 floor elevator ride.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:23 PM
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i lived on the 33rd floor of marina city for 6 yeas and used my giant balcony (175 SF) all the time.

the single most important aspect of balconies is being able to grill. if you're not a griller, then that removes a large chunk of the reason for having them.

my balcony was also big enough to have a table and chairs for 8, so it was great for having people over, especially smokers.

it also had a great view looking west down the river canyon, so it was the perfect spot to chill with a book and a beer and enjoy some fresh air.

and watching thunderstorms out there was THE BEST!

i really do miss my highrise balcony. but now that i'm a family man, i would not want to do the highrise living thing with young children. kudos to those that do it though!
Oh yes, I am a weather person. Rain or snow, I like to pop out there and observe.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:38 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
It's not so much we hate balconies it's just that 99% of the time they're a design after thought so it ends up looking terrible.

I would live perfectly fine without one, especially if my building had say rooftop access and if there were public parks nearby and I wouldn't consider an elevator ride a "trek". There's not much you can really do on average balconies anyway. I guess they're essential if you're a smoker, a private rooftop seems a thousand times better than any cramped balcony on a high-rise though.
I will often walk straight out of the shower in my robe or less to the balcony.

Nothing like inhaling some cool air out there.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:42 PM
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If I'm higher than the 10th floor or so, I'd prefer an unobstructed view to having a balcony.

I love outdoor spaces, but once you get too high balconies become too cold & windy to be of much use on all but the hottest days here, in my experience. It's somewhat dependant on how it's configured, where it's situated, and which direction it's facing of course; but even the balcony on my old 15th floor apartment was usually too cold. I did appreciate being able to barbeque though.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:47 PM
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but once you get too high balconies become too cold/windy to be of much use on all but the hottest days, in my experience.
my experience of living on the 33rd floor of marina city for 6 years was radically different from your experience with highrise baclonies.



disclaimer: i seem to have a much higher tolerance for colder temps than the average human.i can thrown on jeans and a sweat shirt and go read a book outside on a 55 degree day no problem. my wife, on the other hand, gets "chilly" if the outside air temp is below 75 degrees.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 3:13 PM
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It's not that balconies are impossible to make look good. It's just that it's hard.

If you tack them on the side of a building with heavy-looking materials, they're extremely garish, offensively ugly:


from google street view


If you recess them into the facade and use lighter materials (ie railings rather than walls), they blend a lot better. This method makes for perfectly nice and inoffensive background buildings that most people don't think of as either specifically ugly nor specifically beautiful.


from google street view


You can use that same method with a glass building and the effect is similar. Totally acceptable and appropriate for most buildings. Blends into the background.


from google street view


Or you can use them as a sculptural element themselves, to make a unique landmark. These buildings will be controversial; some people will love them and others will hate them. They're less safe but more artsy than method 2. Steely Dan posted good examples above, but there are plenty around the world. HERE is someone's Pinterest board for sculptural skyscraper balconies, with an example below.


from jiram bernardo on flickr
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 3:34 PM
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that's unfortunate. grilling is at least 50% of the reason for even having a balcony in the first place.





my wife's old highrise condo in the west loop was like that. it was my least favorite aspect of her building. i hated lugging all of the food and grilling stuff down the hall, onto the elevator, and down to the common area terrace, just to grill some meat. and god forbid if you forgot the marinade or something else upstairs or if the two grill stations were already being used by others.

at marina city, when i wanted to grill, i simply stepped out onto my balcony, fired up the grill, and then grilled my meat. the logistics of food prep and clean-up were an order of magnitude easier having the grill and my kitchen separated by just 15 feet, instead of 150 feet and an 11 floor elevator ride.
Balcony grilling is illegal in Florida as well. I would actually be surprised if it is not in fact illegal in Chicago as well (obvious fire hazard).
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 3:40 PM
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Balcony grilling is illegal in Florida as well. I would actually be surprised if it is not in fact illegal in Chicago as well (obvious fire hazard).
it's totally legal in chicago.

many (most?) buildings in chicago outlaw wood/charcoal grills on balconies, but gas grills are usually allowed.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Aug 15, 2019 at 3:57 PM.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 3:40 PM
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Balcony grilling is illegal in Florida as well. I would actually be surprised if it is not in fact illegal in Chicago as well (obvious fire hazard).
Gas is fine. Charcoal is a no.

/taste the meat, not the heat.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 3:44 PM
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Balcony grilling is illegal in Florida as well. I would actually be surprised if it is not in fact illegal in Chicago as well (obvious fire hazard).
Definitely not illegal. I grill every week on my highrise Chicago balcony. Our building does not allow charcoal though. I have heard some do (but it's rare and HOA contingent).
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