Aqua’s underutilized high-floor balconies

In the torrent of words that’s been written about Aqua’s balconies, I haven’t seen any mention of the fact that they’re almost completely unused.

The balconies pictured above on the highest floors of Aqua face north and have spectacular views along the river and over the north side of the city. Michael Kardas shot the following view from a north-facing penthouse level balcony while the building was under construction.

Why are Aqua’s high-floor balconies so empty?

See more of YoChicago’s aerial photos at Flickr.


  • marianne 7 years

    Because they are creepy. It feels like you are fall.

  • Benjy 7 years

    Are those units sold? Are there city rules or building regs against having stuff on balconies so high up, due to wind? I remember some Trump unit on like the 56th floor for sale w/ a HUGE terrace, but that furniture wasn’t allowed.

  • Fred 7 years

    I’ve been on one of the penthouse balconies at Alta at K Station 40-odd stories up and it was a harrowing experience. I can only imagine what the top of Aqua would be like. I would think at a certain height a screened in room (like at the Hancock Observatory) or something larger like a terrace would feel safer than a narrow balcony.

  • Craig Wilbanks 7 years

    I live across from them and occasionally see people up there, but less so than the lower levels. Another partial explanantion is that there are fewer units per floor as you get toward the top, so there are fewer residents per floor to go out there. Some of those upper floor units have 2 or 3 balconies each but still usually have only 2 residents in the unit.

  • Fred, marianne,

    I’m sympathetic to your queasiness because my daughter feels the same way about heights.

    That said, I don’t think the majority of people find it a “creepy” or “harrowing” experience to be on a high-floor balcony, no matter the height. I love it, and I’m often at the top of buildings, or on rooftops with nothing between me and going over the edge.


    There is furniture, and grills and plants on some of the balconies, but a minority of them.


    I don’t understand why larger balconies would be less used than the smaller ones. If you click on the photo for the larger version you can see the larger size of some of the balconies, and the separators between them.

  • nwzimmer 7 years

    I’m guessing the point of this post is to imply that there may be more vacancies than some of these rental buildings would like you to believe?

    If so, I agree, it’s a valid question.

  • nwzimmer,

    That wasn’t my point at all – and the floors illustrated are condos, well above the rental portion of the building.

    When I want to make a point I usually make it in a blunt, straightforward fashion.

    My point here was simply as stated – in everything that’s been written about the balconies at Aqua no one has covered them from the angle of how they’d actually be used, if at all.

  • pedro 7 years

    Are there ghouls on the balconies? What makes a balcony creepy?

  • CaptainVideo 7 years

    Perhaps much of the time it is windy and cold at the upper balconies.

  • ol potatoe head 7 years

    hey you guys NO ONE gets to argue with Joe!
    He knows for certain what the majority of people are thinking at all times – he’s a man of action, hanging off roofs and walking the world of real estate!!

  • ol potatoe head,

    Any coward with a fake email address can make sarcastic remarks.

    Any evidence to counter my opinion?

  • Frank S 6 years

    Hi. I found your posting very interesting. I live at Aqua condo and can say we and many others enjoy our balconies alot – and often. We would be happy to share the fun experience with you. Otherwise – these comments are like the Pope writing a column in Playboy .

  • Frank S,

    Been there, on the roof and at the penthouse level – the views are great, and it was a fun experience!

  • shannon 6 years

    I live in the Aqua on the 60th floor and the reason that we so rarely use our balcony is due to four things:

    1) the wind is brutal. We have 50 pound bags of sand holding down our deck chairs (which are probably a solid 20 pounds themselves) and they still get moved around by the wind at times.

    2) In the Summer, since we’re so close to the lake, we get enormous Charlotte’s Web-esque spiders all over the balconies and they are impossible to get rid of.

    3) It’s scary as all get out and makes me feel sick looking down.

    4) The outdoor area is fantastic and huge so there isn’t really a huge draw to stay up on a small-ish balcony. There you have it; mystery solved.

  • shannon 6 years

    I guess I should also mention that when we DO use our balcony we watch the fireworks at Navy Pier and we also have a pet potty out there (pet patio pick-up….best service ever) which saves a bathroom trip or two. Overall, I’m glad that we have the balcony even if only for those reasons alone.

  • shannon,

    Thanks for the info.

    Has your view been affected by the new Coast building?