A five-story condo-complex with sliding glass leading to the balcony for every condo.

4 Real-Life Examples of Indoor-Outdoor Living in Multi-Family Developments

From downsizing Baby Boomers to young urbanites, multi-family housing is hot property. In real estate markets like Phoenix, market trends indicate that new multi-family developments are outpacing single-family units. One of the most sought-after amenities of multi-family housing is an appealing outdoor space, with smart developers designing these living areas to seamlessly flow from the indoors to the outside, similar to a single-family home. Here are some insights and examples of indoor-outdoor living in multi-family developments.


  • Multi-family
  • Multi-slide doors


  • California
  • Seattle
An open multi-slide door connects the patio dining area to the living room

Opening the indoors to private balconies enlarges the living space.

A “Highly-Sought” Extra

According to an article in Forbes, “Private balconies and terraces are among the most highly-sought extras for the growing number of folks working from home and seeking fresh air for exercise and more.”
In Pacific Palisades, California, developer Geoffrey Palmer utilized massive sliding glass doors from Western Window Systems that open onto private walk-out balconies for all 29 units in his luxurious ocean view apartment residences. These large operable glass doors allow residents to open their units to the outdoors and enlarge their living space.

Floor to ceiling glass offers expansive views and connection to nature for residents.

A (Bigger) Connection to Nature

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), one of the top trends in multi-family living is incorporating a visual and physical connection to nature. To that end, sliding glass doors are getting bigger and are being thoughtfully placed to ensure they have the most impact. When architect Doug Austin renovated a former four-story office building in San Diego to 16 loft-like luxury condominium units, he featured floor-to-ceiling glass walls from Western Window Systems in every room to create a highly desirable, immersive connection to nature. “We wanted to bring the outdoors inside,” says Austin. “That was one of our key goals: minimizing the amount of obstruction to view with big expanses of glass and thinner mullions, which you didn’t have 50 years ago.”


Not only is indoor-outdoor living appealing to residents, it’s also a critical part of sustainable architecture. As defined by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), quality views give building occupants a connection to the natural outdoor environment. In Seattle, the team behind Sustainable Living Innovations wanted to build a vertical composite of residences featuring floor-to-ceiling glass in 24 units across six floors. Western Window Systems’ sliding glass doors seamlessly connected each unit’s interior space to a substantial deck perfect for spending time outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. In addition to the views glass doors and windows can provide, the glazing itself can also be an energy efficient building material. To meet California’s stringent energy codes, the team behind the Los Angeles loft development known as Element in Marina del Rey used precast concrete to create a thermal mass for passive solar heating and cooling and Western Window Systems’ thermally broken aluminum moving glass walls and windows to mitigate heat gain. Whether private or shared, indoor-outdoor living spaces in multi-family housing developments have become an important design consideration. They can be used to attract and retain residents, and ease the burden for people who are at home for extended periods of time. In addition, indoor-outdoor living spaces can contribute to more sustainable building practices. From private balconies and terraces to connecting to the environment to sustainability, the right indoor-outdoor living space can differentiate your property from the competition’s.
Floor-to-ceiling glazing across six floors of this apartment complex.

Floor-to-ceiling glazing across six floors creates an impressive facade and allowed developers to meet their efficiency goals.

Multi-slide doors connect the kitchen to the balcony when open.

Precast concrete and thermally broken aluminum multi-slide doors work together to mitigate heat gain and keep residents comfortable.

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