Walking around the I. M. Pei courts, there are some balconies that are plain grey but others have all sorts of decorations ranging from plants, posters, lighting and even bird feeders. For example, first-year Tom Smith’s balcony is full of lights and ornaments on the walls, attracting the attention of people that walk underneath. Each balcony has its own flavor and a unique story from its owners.
“We’ve got chairs, a couch, lights, plants,” Smith said. “Pretty much everything to make it comfortable. I meditate on the balcony in the mornings. I grow my lettuce and different stuff out here. I invite friends over and enjoy the evening. It’s a nice, peaceful spot where I can get away from the noise.”
According to Smith, he finds the balcony conducive to studying.
“I work better out here,” Smith said. “It’s outside, I get to hear the birds and get to enjoy the air and focus on my school work.”
Smith uses whatever he has on hand to decorate his balcony. However, he has also found items at Goodwill.
On the first floor in Pei 1, there is a balcony that is fully painted with chalk.
“It was pretty plain for a while,” first-year Akiva Packouz said. “One day, me and my former roommate just got fed up with it and bought chalk, a chair and lights with the goal of adding vibe.”
It’s not just both roommates’ art on the walls. The balcony wall is the collaborative effort of many people.
“Every time people hang out in the balcony, people add more stuff to it,” Packouz said.
Although the balcony does not have a direct impact on Packouz’s studies, it does make a difference from a social standpoint.
“Since we decorated it’s been more of a hangout place and it feels a lot nicer to be out here,” Packouz said.
Another interesting balcony in Pei 1 belongs to second-year Simon Bustetter.
“I have a lot of plants that other people have thrown out,” Bustetter said. “Mainly from Physical Plant, so I tend to take all their orphans. If it has roots and I think that they can survive, I tend to bring them back.”
Finding a balcony that was right for Bustetter was important to him.
“Last year I scooped around for a month or two because I wanted to have a balcony that faced the sun at the right time for my plants, so I picked this one,” Bustetter said.
Bustetter also enjoys doing school work on the balcony.
“I’m a lot more productive when I’m sitting outside with fresh air around all the plants, and it’s a good place for friends to hang out,” Bustetter said.
He also has a bird feeder, to create another little ecosystem.
“We have a family of rock doves that come every day now,” Bustetter said. One of Bustetter’s roommates named one of the birds Bertha.
According to Resident Hall Director (RHD) Adriana Diaz, Pei rooms are the only rooms on campus with big balconies. Other dorm buildings, like the letter dorms, have smaller balconies. Diaz pointed out that the balconies cannot support hanging items, like hammocks, because of the age of the building. In addition, Diaz mentioned that students must wash any drawings off the balcony before move-out or face a cleaning fee of up to $50.
Room selection begins Apr. 1. If students are looking to experience living in a Pei room with a balcony, they can start scouting the area and have a few choices in mind so when it’s time to choose, they can quickly reserve their best room picks.