Photographer’s Balcony

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Photographer’s Balcony is a stair and balcony remodel situated on the back of a historic three flat along a private residential parkway in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.  The design is a study in the composition of exterior spaces shaped by opportunistic code interpretation, structural ingenuity and the owners’ desire for private, individual outdoor spaces.

The design challenge entailed replacing and improving upon the existing outdoor spaces and can be described through a few simple steps.  First, a zoning interpretation allows the footprint for new balconies to match that of the existing balconies and stair.  This doubles the size of the original footprint and increases exposure to natural light and views.  Second, through the careful editing and optimization of structural parts, just three columns are used to support a new switchback stair and all four balconies, thereby retaining open space at the yard level, simplifying construction sequencing, and reducing overall project cost.  Lastly, two vertical wood screens provide safety and security.  The screens feature prominently against the expressive steel frame and add a sense of warmth and lightness to the whole.

Architect of Record




General Contractor

Two Lights Construction / Navillus


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