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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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Quote:
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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  #3  
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, 1:53 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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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 2:38 PM
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Quote:
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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  #10  
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, 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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  #12  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 6:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
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
Both of these look terrible though. But I agree it's hard to make them look good.
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Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 5:56 PM
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If I were to live in a highrise in Chicago, I would easily pick Coast in LSE. I absolutely love it's uniformity and it's recessed balconies are it's main selling point.


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  #14  
Old Posted Aug 15, 2019, 11:39 PM
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Here in China pretty much all apartment buildings have balconies, but since most people choose to glass them in entirely (or they are built that way in the first place) they're more like sun rooms rather than true balconies. And only the most expensive buildings have balconies that are actually usable for spending time on - in most buildings they're pretty tiny (mine is only about 45 square feet). Most people just use them for laundry - without a dryer, clothes dry by far the fastest when they're on the balcony.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 1:54 AM
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Originally Posted by The Chemist View Post
Here in China pretty much all apartment buildings have balconies, but since most people choose to glass them in entirely (or they are built that way in the first place) they're more like sun rooms rather than true balconies. And only the most expensive buildings have balconies that are actually usable for spending time on - in most buildings they're pretty tiny (mine is only about 45 square feet). Most people just use them for laundry - without a dryer, clothes dry by far the fastest when they're on the balcony.

You see some of that in the older rental towers in Toronto, where people have screened in the balcony to get a bit more living space. Which begs the question: why not just add that space to the interior in the first place? It'd be of a bit more use than the bicycle storage/smoking patio that most people actually seem to use their balconies for.



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by Paul Kulig, on Flickr
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 12:14 AM
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A truly hideous "postage stamp" example can be seen in the balconies of the Alteza Condos atop San Antonio's Grand Hyatt by Arquitectonica:


[Photo from Intelligent Engineering Services)


(Photo by Terri Meyer Boake on CTBUH)


(Photo by Terri Meyer Boake on CTBUH)

I am surprised the drop down the sheer face doesn't require a "people catching" netting, but then nobody is ever seen using these balconies anyway.
They exist to sell condos.


(Photo from San Antonio Board of Realtors on KWSanAntonio)


I'm not a fan of this planar, austere, pattern-making style, as it tends to come across as more mediocre and cheap rather than modernist Rietveld artsy.
Once upon a time we built operable bay windows and wrap-around verandahs or lanai, nowadays we get stubby scraps of bite-sized Balcony Bits:


(Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone on the Rivard Report)


(Montage from Multi-Housing News)

Desperation for development, the requirements of marketing, and the most marginal of low-cost construction leaves us with this stuff.
If they stripped the patterns of stubby bits off we might see how truly banal this throwaway architecture is...:


(Photo from Hotels Combined)

...Quick, screw back on some decorative balcony railings to fool them!

.
.
.

Speaking of fooling them with decoration, here is the crassly PoMo historicist Courtyard San Antonio Riverwalk by Marriott:


(Photo by Randall Crane on Emporis)


(Photo from Marriott.com hosted on Pinterest)

It's got upgraded window trim, dainty lanterns, Italianate columns, and yet it all still adds up to an unsatisfactory urbanist experience.

A comparison can be made with the Omni La Mansión del Rio, nearby at only 200 ft. away and which also has tiny balconies,
dainty lanterns, columns, and historicist dressing:


(Photo from calculatedtraveller.com hosted on Pinterest)


(Photo from Mommy Travels)

Don't be fooled by the historicist style, this building is from 1968 and is built wrapping around an interior parking garage.
Both hotels are on directly the Riverwalk and both architectures use short decorative balconies,
but one contributes to creating a great urban place, while the other is a colorized architectural cartoon.

.
.
.

Pity the city's authentically historic Aurora Apartments have been reduced to a neglected retirement home on public subsidy orbiting on the
outskirts of downtown, as it has picturesque balconies and operable bay windows. Why can we not build more like this?


(Photo by Larry D. Moore on Wikimedia)

Last edited by Hindentanic; Aug 16, 2019 at 12:28 AM.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 12:37 AM
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Stuck on balconies with metal railings suck, they only serve to check a real estate "feature" box. Balconies are much better when they're integrated into the design and feel safe and comfortable.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersg/8333211062


https://www.winstonre.com/1116-watergate-south
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  #18  
Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 3:52 AM
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(Photo from Hotels Combined)

...Quick, screw back on some decorative balcony railings to fool them!
This is criminal. I want whoever is responsible prosecuted and jailed. They are a danger to society.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 3:48 PM
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Athens, Greece comes to mind here.

Nearly the entire city is midrises with ugly, but very functional balconies. They practically define the look of the place, all with enormous shade awnings.
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Old Posted Aug 16, 2019, 4:31 PM
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The Vista balconies are disappointing, but Jeanne and Studio Gang are doing some really creative things with balconies. At their best, they become an integral part of the design.

Aqua has already been mentioned, but a few more examples:

Quote:
Amsterdam Tower (which is 2 towers) pushes the walls of the facade out and has balconies recessed within it, playing with angles to make it visually interesting




Quote:
City Hyde Park
takes the opposite route and juts out the balconies. Alternating trapezoids of balconies and window bays give it a unified (if somewhat chaotic) look

Quote:
MIRA in SF is my personal favorite. A similar principle to City Hyde Park, but part of a spiraling tower.



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