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Marina City rule tries to banish colorful, holiday balcony lights

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The iconic riverfront towers will look a lot less festive


As Art on the Mart continues to bring 2.5 acres worth of vivid projected color to the Chicago River, the management of nearby Marina City is demanding its unit owners limit their artistic expression when it comes to lighting the twin towers’ iconic balconies.

According to a recent memo to residents, the new rules—put in to place just before the holidays—limit balcony illumination to “clear white single strand lights.” The regulations prohibit colored and blinking bulbs as well neon, strobe, fiber optic, and lasers.


Uniform, all-white balcony lights were once the norm at the Bertrand Goldberg-designed complex shortly after its completion in the 1960s. At the time, the units were rentals and management provided the same brand lights to each tenant, noted Loop North News.

With the residences now under individual ownership and many owners not opting to live in the building full time, such uniformity will be hard to recreate, Marina City resident Chelsea Vines told Curbed Chicago.

“The whole situation is incredibly frustrating to me, because one of the reasons I chose Marina City as my home in the first place was due to the iconic shape of the buildings complimented by the colorful lights,” said resident Chelsea Vines.

“I put up clear bulbs the day I moved in. While that is not breaking the new rules, I have to admit that I’ve left them on all night every night this week in defiance.”

A second resident who didn’t want to share his or her name said, “I have a pretty good view of a lot of balconies and I haven’t seen any lights that would be seriously considered disruptive, and I haven’t heard anyone complain. [The lights] highlight the distinct architectural character that makes our buildings so wonderful to live in.”

It remains to be seen if and how Marina City’s management hopes to enforce the new rules. Colorful lights adorn many of the building’s petal-shaped balconies year-round and, with the arrival of the holiday season, it might be hard to put that particular genie back in the bottle.

Marina City

300 North State Street, , IL 60654