New Government City

New Government City

Sejong, South Korea

CLIENT Multi-functional Administrative City Construction Agency of Korea / SIZE 667 acres / 2,700,000 m2 /STATUS Competition - 1st Place 2007, 1st Phase Completed 2012, 2nd Phase Completed 2014  / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / H Associates / Haeahn Architecture / PHOTO CREDIT Efrain Mendez,

This is a project that took a modest idea, that of green roofs as a public spaces and converted them into the generating idea for shaping a whole city. The four kilometer continuous connecting surface uniting ministries transforms the understanding of public space which here becomes the generator of the architectural form and is completely integrated into the architecture.

The design of the Master Plan for South Korea’s new administrative city. Sejong City, some 90 miles south of Seoul, will be home to 36 ministries currently located in or near Seoul. This project was won in an international competition and is now under construction. 

Three concepts ruled its overall definition:

FLAT CITY: The iconic plane--the physical and conceptual datum of aligned building rooftops--symbolizes the interconnected unity and democratic nature of the people and the government.

LINK CITY: Physical and visual linkages are created between the government and the people, the urban and the natural, the ground and the sky.

ZERO WASTE CITY: We created a strategy for the model city development that is based on zero waste principles. All waste from one system becomes the food for another. The third, Zero Waste City was not carried out.

New Asian Cities Pursue Sustainable Design, Architectural Record
Asian Cities Go Green, Bloomberg Businessweek
City’s Evolution Offers Lessons in Korean Politics, New York Times

SEJONG, KOREA, MPPAT (Masterplan for Public Administration Town)

Prairie Waterway Stormwater Park



CLIENT Sienna Corporation and City of Farmington, MN / AWARD League of Minnesota Cities Achievement Award / STATUS Completed 1996 / SIZE 200 acres / PHOTO CREDIT Bordner Aerial

For a new development in the suburb of Minneapolis, we proposed a drainage system with a dual purpose: provide drainage for the development of nearly 500 homes and create and function as a public space. Dubbed ‘Park Place’ by local residents, the 91-acre park has now become an integral part of the community, not only as a part of infrastructure, but also as a public amenity. 

A series of strategies are used to temporarily store excess water and mitigate the risks of flooding through a swale system, ponds and channels planted with grasses and sedges. It resolves environmentally the issue of frequent flooding in a flat plain-with a high water table and peak storm volumes-emptying in the Red River.

The designed riparian system consists of a civic lawn on axis with the downtown area, flanked by playing fields, bike paths and pedestrian paths; glimpses of wildlife are provided by the wetlands associated with this urban waterway.

St. Patrick's Island



CLIENT Calgary Municipal Land Corporation / SIZE 12.5 Ha. / 31.0 Ac. / STATUS Competition finalist, 2011 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Allied Works Architecture / David Skelley / NIP / Creative Concern / Knippers  Helbig / Sherwood / Design Engineers / Trans Solar / Hanscomb / Anne Georg / Terry Bullick

Balmori Associates’ entry for St. Patrick’s Island competition revisits and modernizes the eternal idea of Eden and the foundation of a new era. We propose attracting and supporting wildlife on their terms, not ours. In doing so, we offer a powerful point of comparison with the adjacent Calgary Zoo and create a model for our future relations with other living things.

An assemblage of habitats as an ecological mosaic allows local fauna and flora to thrive.  Diversified vegetation cover, enhanced topographical features and integrated water-based ecosystems are relevant to the site’s situation within the Bow River floodplain. Known as “edge effect”, the overlap zones between habitats (ecotones) are privileged as they typically present increased variety of plants.

Hoboken: resist, delay, store, discharge

Hoboken: resist, delay, store, discharge


CLIENT US Department of Housing and Urban Development / Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force / Rebuild by Design / City of Hoboken / SIZE 735 acres / 300 ha / STATUS Competition Winner / DESIGN TEAM OMA / Balmori Associates / Royal Haskoning /  HR&A

Organized by Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, Rebuild by Design was a multistage regional design competition aimed at developing innovative projects to protect and enhance Sandy-affected communities. The OMA, Balmori Associates, Royal Haskoning, HR & A proposal Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge for Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken was awarded $230 million.

Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken are susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. As integrated urban environments, discreet one-house-at-a-time solutions do not make sense. What is required is a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the density and complexity of the context, galvanizes a diverse community of beneficiaries, and defends the entire city. Our comprehensive urban water strategy deploys programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense (resist); policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff (delay); a circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater (store); and water pumps and alternative routes to support drainage (discharge).

Our approach is framed by a desire to understand and quantify flood risk. In doing so, we are better positioned to identify those opportunities that present the greatest impact, the best value, and the highest potential — our areas of focus. Our objectives are to manage water for both disaster and for long-term growth; enable reasonable flood insurance premiums through the potential redrawing of the FEMA flood zone; and deliver co-benefits that enhance our cities. These are replicable innovations that can help guide our communities on a sustainable path to living with water.

For the landscape team the project galvanized the ideas of the importance of the size of the unit to be protected, in this case the whole town of Hoboken, a small town, and let to the conclusion that units of a similar size were ideal sizes in which work, leading to rather less costly solutions.

Community Member's Outline Hoboken's Rebuild by Design Initiative
Promoting Resilience Through Innovative Planning and Design
Rebuild by Design Team
Final Proposal

Creation From Catastrophe: How Architecture Rebuilds Communities

Abandoibarra Masterplan



CLIENT Sociedad Bilbao Ria 2000 / SIZE 74 acres / 300,000 m2 STATUS Design Completed 1996 / Construction Completed 2012 DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects / Eugenio Aguinaga PHOTO CREDIT Bilbao Ria 2000 / Efrain Mendez,

2012 marks the completion of Balmori Associates’ Master Plan for Abandoibarra. For the past twenty years, Bilbao has reinvented itself by regenerating important sections of the city affected by the industrial crisis of the 1980’s.  One of those former industrial areas is a derelict harbor in the center of Bilbao called Abandoibarra.

The Abandoibarra Master Plan was drawn by Balmori Associates, Cesar Pelli and Eugenio Aguinaga in 1998 (winner of an international competition). Balmori Associates created park guidelines and designed all open space, streets, sidewalks and plazas, placing emphasis on expanding the amount of green space in the city and incorporating sustainable design practices. Two-thirds of the Master Plan area are dedicated to parks and open space.

Today, what was once a high-speed roadway, has been turned into a boulevard with multiple pedestrian crossings and a light rail now connects the two main cultural centers of the development: Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum and the city’s opera house. Running on wide swaths of green lawn, this rail line gives continuity to green space. For the river edge, Balmori proposed a linear park, Parque de la Ribera. This new promenade, no less than thirty meters in width, is treated as a longitudinal space at two levels. The half nearest to the water proposes the pier’s rehabilitation, maintaining the existing dialogue between both shores. The inside half, which is located at the 6m level, concurs with the exterior of the Guggenheim Museum. In 2005 this section of the Master Plan received the Special Award ‘Città d’Acqua’ of the Biennale di Venezia for Best Project. In 2003, Balmori Associates was commissioned the designed of Plaza Euskadi and in 2007, together with RTN Architect, won an international competition to design Campa de los Ingleses Park also located in Abandoibarra.




SIZE 125.7 square feet / STATUS Completed 2015 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

GrowOnUs Floating Landscape in the Gowanus Canal

An experiment to clean water through phytoremediation, desalination and rainwater collection to irrigate productive floating gardens.

Balmori Associates has designed, fabricated and is launching a floating landscape in Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. The floating infrastructure is one in a series of projects Balmori has designed to act as sponges that filter and clean water and provide wildlife habitats in the city. Floating infrastructures can adapt to and address rising seas.

GrowOnUs, an experiment in floating infrastructure was launched on Friday September 18 at 11am at the Third Street Bridge in Brooklyn, NY.

The project was funded through a $20,000 grant Balmori Associates and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy received from the Cornelia & Michael Bessie Foundation to research and create a floating productive garden in the Gowanus Canal. Once a hub for maritime and commercial activity, the Gowanus Canal has captured industrial waste products from factories located along its banks; and during heavy storms, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) bring not only stormwater to the canal but also untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris.

GrowOnUs transforms metal culvert pipe into planters. These are the same pipes used to bring the polluted runoff and sewage waste to the canal. Each of the 54 test tubes isolate different experiments in plants (over 30 plants selected for phytoremediation and natural dye production), various watering conditions (clean water through phytoremediation, desalinate canal brackish water through evaporation and condensation and collect rainwater), as well as a variety of buoyant construction materials (coconut fibers, bamboo, mycelium, and matrix of recycled plastic.)

GrowOnUs will be monitored to study the viability of producing large scale edible floating landscapes in cities with polluted rivers. It will also further explore other functions with urban potential as a multi-functional green infrastructure: shoreline protection, biodiverse habitats, energy production, and public space.

Diana Balmori, discussing the project commented: ‘We have pioneered floating landscapes, we now want to learn what can make these floating structures financially sustainable. Dr Michael Balick at the New York Botanical Garden suggested we grow herbs, low maintenance crops that can give a financial return given their price per volume. In a few years NYC restaurants may be serving meals and drinks infused with herbs grown on one of these islands.’

Similar to green roofs or linear parks in place of traffic medians, floating landscapes exist on the edges and underutilized spaces within cities. Whereas green roofs exist as an intersection between landscape and architecture, floating islands are a model of the interface and transitions between the river, the landscape and the city. 

Wall Street Journal
Next City
The Architect's Newspaper
News 12 Brooklyn
Fox 5 News
shift on MSNBC

GrowOnUs press release
GrowOnUs brochure

The Garden That Climbs The Stairs



CLIENT Bilbao Jardin / 2009 / Fundación Bilbao 700 / SIZE 80 m2 / 860 ft2 / STATUS Completed 2009 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / PHOTO CREDIT Iwan Baan

As a member of the jury for the second edition of an International Competition of urban gardens in the city of Bilbao called “Bilbao Jardín 2009”, Diana Balmori was invited to create a temporary garden. Balmori, like each of the twenty-five selected participants, was assigned a ten meter by ten meter square in which to design a garden. The site was located at the landing of a large staircase between two Arata Isozaki towers leading to Santiago Calatrava’s footbridge over the Nervión River.

Instead of remaining at the landing of the stairs Balmori stretched the same hundred square meter surface into a narrow band and shifted the site in order for the garden to climb the stairs. In one broad stroke the garden performed a narrative of landscape which transformed the way this public corridor was perceived by users.  In form, the garden engages the horizontal plaza with the rising vertical plane of the steps and the upright gesture of Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture. Like the famous ‘Spanish Steps’ in Rome, the garden is not only designed for visitors to ascend and descend, but for them to linger.

“The Garden That Climbs the Stairs” transformed a space in an unexpected way. It transformed the stairs and the space around them.

New York Police Academy



CLIENT NYC Department of Design and Construction / New York Police Academy / SIZE 35 acres / 14 ha / 1st Phase: 200,000 sq ft / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Perkins+Will / Michael Fieldman Architects

Three landscape systems define the organization of the NYPA: the muster courtyard, the drainage ditch and the perimeter landscape.  Each system is defined by specific programmatic attributes, but has been designed to tie the campus together as a whole.

The muster courtyard at the heart of the campus is defined by two elements in a field of decomposed granite: the muster and the garden. Framed by stately trees and light poles, the muster is also a flexible event space. At the main entrance to the campus is a regimented entry grove of 36 Tulip trees symbolizing a company (36 recruits). Formed by a series of linear sunken planters the grove allows for east west circulation. The badly named drainage ditch is an unusual feature for this type of project but praiseworthy in its achievements.

As a linear canal it bisects the Academy, serving as both an interface between the campus program and an innovative natural drainage infrastructure. The canal, a unique condition of both freshwater and tidal ecologies, is a richly planted landscape of native and wetland species working to scrub the water clean through displacement, aeration and filtration. The planted edges and terraces accommodate the fluctuating water levels- designed within the parameters of LEED and 100-year flood models. But its great contribution is its use as visual and physical contrast to the necessarily strict layouts of the rest of the spaces.

The perimeter landscape responds to the nature of the project phasing. Since much of the perimeter and parking areas will be developed in later phases of the project, the planting strategy is to surround the academy with a native meadow and trees planted outside of future building footprints.

Puerto Triana Development Sevilla



CLIENT Undisclosed / SIZE 40,000 m2 / STATUS Competition Winner 2007 / Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects / AYESA

The central idea behind the landscape design for Puerto Triana Development is on the one hand to create a shaded and cool path, with sounds and vapors of water, and variations in the degree of shade and shadows. On the other, two terraces on commercial podiums into the pubic circulation patterns doubling the pedestrian walking space (under construction).

Campa de los Ingleses Park



CLIENT Sociedad Bilbao Ria 2000 / SIZE 25,000 sq. m2 / 6.17 acres / STATUS Completed 2012 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Lantec (Local Partner) / RTN Architects / PHOTO CREDIT Iwan Baan / Efrain Mendez / Borja Gomez

Campa de los Ingleses Park designed by Balmori Associates with RTN Architect is the results of an international design competition (2007). 

The park flows from the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, unifying the Abandoibarra area of Bilbao and the Nervión River. The Park's design was based on gracefully meditating for pedestrians a ten meter (33 feet) elevation difference between the city above and the Nervión River below. This was achieved with ramps, terraces, and topography, earthforms serving to control vistas and to allow for a café to be tucked under.

Instead of an “Industrial Lawn”, a “Freedom Lawn” was planted by introducing various grass species, clover and wildflowers that fixes nitrogen and reduces the need for pesticides. The paving designed by Balmori contains an additive called GeoSilex® which absorbs CO2; the paving was developed with the University of Granada and made entirely from industrial waste. The local newspaper referred to the park as “a new lung for the city.”

Shanghai Bund



CLIENT Shanghai Urban Planning Administration Bureau / Shanghai Municipal Engineering Administration Bureau / Shanghai Municipal Committee for the Development of Huangpu River Corridor / The People’s Government of Huangpu District, Shanghai / SIZE  20 by 2.5 km, 12.3 acres / 50,000 m2 / STATUS Competition Finalist 2008 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Beyer Blinder Belle / Yuliang Hong

Selected as of of the ten teams to compete for this project for the Shanghai Bund. We focused on a supremely ecological scheme and designed each ecological move into an aesthetic public experience (the Shanghai Bund attracts up to 100,000 visitors a day).

 In response to high pollution levels in the water and the river being prone to flooding, Balmori’s proposal restores the Bund as a continuous 2.5 Km/20 meter wide public promenade that connects river and city. The surface is a sculpted horizontal topography that mediates between access to the river and raised views across the city. It is an open and porous plan which allows for sustained movement of both people and water. 

The ecological features: a) floating vegetated islands engineered to clean the river water with native riparian plant species. These islands are also designed to generate their own electricity with underwater turbines. These vegetated islands float on the river, rising and falling with the changing tides, and form a river edge that is aesthetic and functional, as well as fixed and adaptive.  b) Photovoltaic panels along the sea wall produce energy for street lights. c) Hard surfaces are coated with titanium dioxide that transforms air pollution into harmless, inert compounds that wash away in the rain. d) Stormwater filtration is provided by a series of submerged sand filters and UV disinfection units beneath the walkways. Once the water is cleaned it is then reused on site in fountains and ponds.

The Bund, continuing the tradition of innovation in China, and the SEZs (special economic zones) are imagined as a SECOZ (Special Ecology Zone).

Beale Street Landing



CLIENT Riverfront Development Corp / SIZE 5 acres / 20,235 m2 / STATUS Completed 2015 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / RTN Architects / Bounds & Gillepsie Architects / Consulmar / L'Observatoire International PHOTO CREDIT Aeria Innovation

A twenty-five-foot bluff rises from a once busy commercial harbor in Memphis' old downtown, which, like many American waterfront cities, historically turned its back on the river that was once its lifeblood. 

Balmori Associate’s design consists of a series of level, landscaped islands formed in the terraced slope of the river’s edge, highlighting the tidal changes at the river’s edge, which can exceed forty feet. The intent of the design was for public space to interact with the changing levels of the river. The islands are each planted with a distinct native plant community of Western Tennessee, strategically corresponding to the fluctuating levels of water inundation.   Water collected on site is filtered and cleaned through vegetated terraces and then stored in a cistern for reuse in irrigation.  Each island creates a unique public space, including a river overlook, a children’s play area, a performance space and wetland gardens, choreographed with the changes in The Mississippi River.  

The five-acre riverfront park is the departure and arrival point for thousands of river travelers and will provide a destination point for individuals and groups to celebrate the spot where the world’s most powerful river engages the home of the blues.

Ciudad Empresarial Sarmiento Angulo

Ciudad Empresarial Sarmiento Angulo

Bogota, Colombia

CLIENT Sarmiento Angulo / STATUS Under Construction / SIZE 18.53 acres / 75,000 m2 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Construcciones Planificadas

Ciudad Empresarial Sarmiento Angulo is an urban project in the heart of Bogota, Colombia that marks the midpoint between Bogota’s historic downtown and the international airport. As Bogota has rapidly developed along Calle 26, the city’s most important axis, Ciudad Empresarial Sarmiento Angulo will emerge as Bogota’s preeminent cultural and commercial center.

The master plan for Ciudad Empresarial Sarmiento Angulo spans three blocks creating an integrated system of public space that will serve as a critical junction between three distinct areas of the city: Parque Simon Bolivar to the north, Centro Administrativo Nacional to the east, and a residential neighborhood to the west. A public pedestrian spine connects all three blocks with a series of bridges over vehicular cross streets. The center piece of this mixed use development is a public square that contains a new performing arts center and hotel. The square fuses the existing open space together, creating a new public center for the city.

The landscape expresses the diverse ecology found in Colombia with each block containing a distinct botanical environment and color palette comprised of indigenous Colombian plants. The blocks are connected through water elements that fluctuate in level depending on water availability, accommodating a variety of social and ecological programs. Vibrant colors are found in both the paving and vegetation, creating a link to the city’s colorful historic district, La Candelaria, and regional ecological events like the algae blooms of the Cano Cristales. Topographic undulations in the surface of the landscape create depth for large planting areas above the underground parking structure and provide lush enclaves for people to enjoy in an urban setting.

Plaza Euskadi



CLIENT Sociedad Bilbao Ria 2000 / SIZE 2.5 acres / 10,117 m2 / STATUS Completed 2012 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / LANTEC (Local Partner) / PHOTO CREDIT Iwan Baan / Borja Gomez / Efrain Mendez

Plaza Euskadi connects the nineteenth century section of the city called “El Ensanche” to the new section of Bilbao, Deusto university campus, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Nervión River. The Plaza is a pivot, unifying diverse elements of the city.  Apart from the Museum of Fine Arts and historic residential buildings, the plaza is surrounded by contemporary buildings such as university and library buildings, a shopping mall, a subway station, hotels, residential buildings, an office skyscraper, designed by different architects including Gehry, Moneo, Pelli, Siza, Krier, Legorreta, and Stern.

Oval in form, the plaza has two forms of circulation: a tree-lined perimeter path for leisurely walks and sitting, and a dominant central path which brings the people from downtown to Abandoibarra to the Campa de los Ingleses Park, The Rivers, and the pedestrian bridge crossing the river to Deusto University and its neighborhoods.

Three public park “pockets” hook onto the sides of the central path, which provide colorful and playful seating made from recycled rubber. Each pocket has a different character: an amphitheater section with reflection puddles, an ottoman seating section, and a “garden” section of flowering shrubs with a 100 year old Laegostremia tree.

In 2008 the construction of the plaza was impacted by the economic downturn in Spain leading to a complete re-design. The final design cost was half of the original construction budget which required the removal of fountains, a more modest planting and grading scheme, and a shift in materials. 

West 53rd Street



CLIENT Algin Management / SIZE 15,000 sq ft / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / CetraRuddy

The organization of West 53rd Street was generated by an urgent need for programmatic flexibility in limited outdoor terrace spaces. Interior green spaces and terraces were carefully planned and designed to accommodate a multitude of activities from the more private garden use to large scale communal events. 

This project started with a research into the various types of activities that a residential complex could accommodate in terraces of various light, wind and noise characteristics. By analyzing and fully understanding the nuances and intricacies of how residents might use their outdoor spaces over time, we were able to create spaces that are responsive to the various user types throughout the day in four different seasons.

West 53rd Street Blue Roof

684 Broadway



CLIENT Matthew A Blesso, Blesso Properties / SIZE 3,100sf / 288 m2 / STATUS Completed in 2007 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Joel Sanders Architect /  ANDarchitects Architect / R2P Studio / PHOTO CREDIT Mark J.Dye

The project at 684 Broadway explores the interface of built and natural environment of architecture and landscape; not blurring the line between landscape and architecture, but widening it. This thick interface creates the opportunity for new types of spaces. Alternating sheaves of landscape and building on both horizontal and vertical planes create transitions within this widened line. It is a complex interface that is layered – the thicker the line the better – and results in a new spatial entity. Interface becomes a sustainable strategy that aims to maximize biodiversity and sustainable design in this urban site by extending green space both horizontally and vertically within the renovated apartment and exterior roof space. The result, hypernature, is an artificial spectacle of constructed nature. 

The interface begins with an interior garden beneath a twenty foot long skylight. Filled with large leaved Elephant Ears and black bamboo, the plants create an ascending green carpet beneath the floating stairs to the roof. Above the delicate bamboo fronds, through a glass partition separating the garden from master bathroom, is visible a green wall planted with euonymus. This improbable swath of vertical vegetation climbs the wall colliding with a second skylight through which is visible the rooftop planting.

Suspended above the sea of grasses is a bi-level ipe deck. On the lower level a small gravel path leads to a look out pod with views over the lower east side, an outdoor shower and on the opposite side of the stair bulkhead, a more private enclave with jacuzzi and sunning deck. Five steps lead to the upper level with an outdoor kitchen and grill lounging space. Opposite the parapet, the bulkhead rises into the sky. Densely planted with stepable plants one can lie on the slope and watch cloud rushing overhead. A staircase leads to the top from which there is a 360 degree view of the Lower East side.

NTT Shinjuku Headquarters Building



CLIENT Nippon Telephone, Telegraph Headquarters / STATUS Completed 1995 / SIZE 78,899 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

This design of this project is all about the relationship between nature and artifice. This is sought through the use of different materials. The plaza, bisected by a fence, is completely public except for a few occasional private fairs hosted on a monthly basis when the fence is closed off. The fence dividing the plaza begins as a wooden structure; gradually stainless steel members are added, mingling with the wood, increasing in number until the fence is entirely of stainless steel, moving from natural to more artificial materials.

The fountain rill, powered by a windmill, moves water over a patterned bed of concrete on one side to stainless steel on the other based on hydrological patterns from riverbeds. Two bridges are added to the design, one of steel, and one of wood. Stone-tile paths with planted and gravel surfaces let the rain seep in to ground water or to collection points for cleaning and reuse.

Smithson Floating Island



CLIENT Produced by Minetta Brook in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, with the assistance of the Hudson River Park Trust, and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation / SIZE 2,700 ft2 / 250 m2 / STATUS Completed in 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Official LLC / Diana Shamash / Minetta Brook / Nancy Holt / James Cohan Gallery / Estate of Robert Smithson / John Rubin / Floating Cinema PHOTO CREDIT Andrew Cross / John Bartelstone

Never realized during the artist Robert Smithson’s lifetime, Floating Island is a 30 x 90-foot barge landscaped with earth, rocks, and native trees and shrubs, towed by a tugboat around the island of Manhattan. The fabricated “island” on view from September 17 to 25, 2005 was visible to millions of residents, commuters, and visitors along the Hudson and East Rivers. 

Robert Smithson developed the concept for Floating Island in 1970—the same year he created his best-known work, the ambitious earthwork Spiral Jetty at Utah’s Great Salt Lake.  Balmori Associates interpreted his 1970 sketch and consulted with his widow the artist Nancy Holt. According to her, Smithson's project was intended as an homage to Central Park. Floating Island offers a displacement of the park—itself a man-made creation from its natural habitat.

New Hancher Auditorium


Iowa City, IA, USA

CLIENT University of Iowa / SIZE 7.6 acres / STATUS In Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Confluence / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects PHOTO CREDIT Pelli Clarke Pelli

In 2008 a dramatic 500 year flood devastated a large portion of the Iowa University Art Campus. Balmori Associates’ set out to re-imagine the relationship between the Iowa River and its surrounding landscape where the Arts Campus resides.  Balmori's Master Plan for the Arts Campus that provides the river and university with new currents of connectivity, creativity, and environmental performance. 

Topographic depressions around the New Hancher Auditorium create spaces that are flexible and configured to embrace the variable character of the river. These depressions are designed to provide public space for large outdoor performances and social events, but also allow for the river to expand during large flood events. 

Considering the larger effects of the 2008 flood, Balmori’s strategy can be seen as a prototype for water management, that if replicated on a regional level would be capable of attenuating increased flooding threats brought about by the urbanization of the Iowa River Corridor. Additional areas of water treatment and infiltration serve to collect, clean and permeate storm water on site instead of piping it directly into the river. This decreases water flow and velocity of water in the Iowa River implementing a soft approach to flood prevention, a strategy that becomes a powerful flood management tool when repeated. 

Silvercup Studios



CLIENT Silvercup Studios  / FUNDER Clean Air Communities / SIZE 35,000 ft2 / 3,251 m2 / STATUS Completed 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Shalat Architects, P.C. / Greener by Design / PHOTO CREDIT Mark J. Dye / Joseph Maida

New York City's largest monitored green roof, Silvercup, was designed by Balmori Associates as the first of a series of green roofs planned for Long Island City, dubbed “Long Island (Green) City.” 

Benefits monitored on its green roof: absorption of air pollutants and carbon dioxide; improved outdoor air quality; increased energy efficiency and storm water run-off reduction (a particular burden to the sewer infrastructure of Long Island City). EarthPledge, a non-profit organization promoting technologies for sustainability, installed the Silvercup roof research station.