New Hancher Auditorium

2016 - Iowa City, IA, USA


Iowa City, IA, USA

CLIENT University of Iowa / SIZE 7.6 acres / STATUS Completed 2016 / 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. 

Osaka National Museum of Art




CLIENT Ministry of Construction / Ministry of Culture / The Kin Ki Regional Bureau / SIZE 3,500 m2 / STATUS Completed 2004 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects 

A new contemporary art museum in Osaka, Japan was constructed completely underground, adjacent to an existing science museum. The plaza above the museum ends on a pyramidal mountain form meant to invoke a mountain. This black granite pyramid is covered with a thin sheet of cascading water. Curvilinear stairs lead down to the ‘plain,’ where the stainless steel ribbons flow across the main plaza, leading toward the stainless steel sculpture that marks the new museum’s entrance. A large liquid arc at handrail height starts at the museum’s entrance sculpture. The water flows over small black river stones along the side of the staircase descending into the museum, ending in a cascade.

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 one 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).

Bedford House




CLIENT  Confidential / SIZE 3200 ft2 / STATUS Completed 2011 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Joel Sanders Architect

This project was generated as one of integrating landscape and architecture. Cascading down the hillside of a woodland sanctuary, Bedford House is a renovation of a 1950s weekend home on a 4-acre site that abuts a 225-acre nature conservancy. Organic and synthetic materials - wood, stone, concrete and plants - link interior and exterior, interweaving  landscape, pool, and main house.

Materials are the connective tissue. The white concrete surface continues from inside the house to outdoors, interlocking with bluestone pavers and creating a path that leads down to the pool terrace. The white concrete surface folds up and cantilevers over the pool terrace to form the pool house, while field stone retaining walls dynamically wrap the pool house and make the pool into a sculpture.

Bands of vegetation undulate across the front and rear of the property, unifying the site before dispersing into the forest, in a composition that changes color with the seasons.

Making Circles in the Water




CLIENT Metis International Garden Festival, Reford Gardens / SIZE 150 m2 /STATUS Completed, 2011 /DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Denis Pelli: Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, New York University / Carlos M. Brañas: Marine engineer, Consulmar S.R.L

Waterscapes allow for powerful horizontal views that let the eye to extend far along the horizon, providing a pleasurable experience which is a unique and an inseparable condition of landscape. Balmori Associates studied forms that are capable of shaping the way one apprehends space in order to make the viewer more conscious of the act of seeing. The viewing device chosen for this demonstration was a truncated cone with openings on either end. 

These vision cones were then implemented within a series of large planes with circular openings, scaled to allow humans to pass through the space.  The voids created by the circular openings gradually rose from the ground, shifting your view and relationship to the landscape as you transcended the space. By progressing through the frames towards the water the field of view incrementally opened up, allowing the horizon to gradually reveal itself.

Arc Wildlife Crossing

2010 - DENVER, CO, USA



CLIENT US Department of Transportation / SIZE 1.5 acres / 0.6 hectares / STATUS Competition Finalist 2010 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Studio MDA / Knippers Helbig Inc / David Skelly / CITA / Bluegreen / Davis Langdon

The United States has one of the most extensive road transportation networks in the world. The system of roads that facilitates so well the movement of people and goods imposes substantial obstacles to the other species sharing our environment. Animals cross roads because their lifestyles depend on the use of resources that are distributed in space. 

Whether we provide the means to ease these movements or not, they occur with great frequency. Resulting collisions with vehicles represent a safety hazard for travelers, a significant financial burden, and a threat to the viability of species populations located in landscapes dissected by roads.

The Modular Crossing System utilizes the surrounding landscape in order to create a new shape inspired by nature. The design uses a low tech system of layering wood planes to create an easily modifiable shape. The main design intent of the crossings is a structure derived from the abstraction of the topographical layers in the landscape above. The wood for this system suggests the utilization of local trees felled or weakened by disease e.g. red pine in Colorado.

Riverfront District




CLIENT Riverfront 47 / The Mosites Company / SIZE 32 ha / 80 acres / STATUS Under Design 2018 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Sherwood Engineers / Stuart Lynn / 4Ward Planning

The development of the new 80 acre Riverfront District in Sharpsburg Borough, O’Hara Township and Aspinwall Borough, PA is the opportunity to reconnect people and other living communities to the Allegheny River and to one another.

The shared vision for the District is to create an extraordinary public park which invites both active and passive recreation, implement a portion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a 1.5-mile missing piece of the 26-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail that goes to Pittsburgh and beyond.

Most of the site is located on an elevated plateau, out of the flood zone, some 15 to 30 feet above the river level towards the south and Sharpsburg towards the north.  The northern boundary is an active railroad further dividing the site from the adjacent communities. From the large metal scrapyard that operated on the site remains to gigantic gantry cranes.

While the master plan sets the layout of the open space and overall sustainable strategies (such as water management, wildlife habitat), the trail design and the Pilot project will further establish an aesthetic vocabulary that illustrates the overall identity of the district.

Prairie Waterway Stormwater Park

1996 - Farmington, MN, USA



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.

Soho Tower

2017 - New York, NY, USA

Soho Tower

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Bizzi & Partners Development / STATUS Design In Progress / DESIGN TEAM  Balmori Associates + Renzo Piano Building Workshop

A series of daylighting analyses determined the plant selection for Soho Tower. Climbers, understory trees, and mosses were selected for the drop off while at the terrace by the spa we designed a palette of prairie grasses that would allow for maximum privacy while framing the view from the indoor pool. Black olive trees and jasmine were selected for the atrium.

Farmington Canal Greenway


Farmington Canal Greenway Master Plan and Yale Section 


CLIENT Yale University Office of Facilities / SIZE 2.1 miles / STATUS Master Plan Completed 1995 / Engineering School Section Completed 2011 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clark Pelli

The Farmington Canal, a 2-mile-long section of railroad in eastern Connecticut, has been abandoned since 1982. A canal that ran three miles through the city of New Haven and six miles through Hamden, a New Haven suburb, preceded the railroad. The masterplan for the Farmington canal reuse was initiated as part of the federal Rails-to-Trails rehabilitation program. Developed by Balmori Associates it sought, through substantial research, to reactivate the canal and transform it into a recreational corridor that connects disparate parts of the city with its center. By modest moves, the canal corridor can eventually affect projects that occur along it, becoming a spine on which to hang other built development. 

The two mile long Yale owned section sits by the new Engineering Research Building of Yale University, located at the corner of Prospect Street and Trumbull Street. Working together with its design architects, civil and environmental engineers, Balmori Associates explored numerous sustainable design ideas. The porous paving used as part of a larger storm water management strategy reduces runoff's volume and velocity.

The section of abandoned railway is envisioned not simply as a trail but a new prototype of public open space, a linear park made up of discrete green segments that respond individually to their respective urban or suburban contexts.

Liamuiga National Park

2015 - Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis

Liamuiga National Park

Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis

CLIENT Valmiki Kempadoo / STATUS Master Plan Completed 2015 / SIZE 378 acres / 153 hectares / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

The vision for St Kitts National Park will become a symbol of the region’s progress and the country’s renaissance. St Kitts is leading the way to sustainable energy and other initiatives transforming communities such as improvements to infrastructure, health care initiatives, intergovernmental cooperation, and economic development strategies.  Centrally located, the National Park will become an important destination for the local community and an attraction in the tourism network of the island, while fulfilling the ecological need of replenishing the aquifer.

West 53rd Street Blue Roof

2017 - New York, NY, USA

West 53rd Street Blue Roof

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Algin Management / COST N/A / STATUS Under Construction / SIZE 15,000 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Cetra Ruddy Architecture

The New York City Building Code requires rooftops to retain water and slowly release it into the sewage system. The code is designed to alleviate overburdening sewage system with storm water. Going beyond the purely utilitarian blueroof, this garden attempt to simulate peace in a hectic inner city environment. Conceived as a designer’s blueroof, this gravel garden curates both pedestrian and water flow.

View West 53rd Street

Singapore Rail Corridor

2015 - Singapore, Singapore

Singapore Rail Corridor

Singapore, Singapore

CLIENT Urban Development Authority UDA / STATUS Competition Proposal 2015 / SIZE 24km / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, MAD Architects

The model we are proposing as an approach to the treatment of the Singapore Rail Corridor is one of integration of biological and cultural models. The introduction of the past history of the site is our way of adopting a biological model and by that uniting nature and culture. In the words of Nobel Prize Winner Francois Jacob, “living things are in fact historic structures; they are really the creation of history.” When applied to the Corridor, this framework of nature, history, culture, and structure integrates the site’s underlying ecology, industrial past, surrounding communities, and unified future. Such an integrated framework has resulted in a layered concept master plan that uses flexible infrastructure to promote movement along the corridor. Similar to the trains that once moved through the site, we see the flow of community, ecology, culture, and the city along the corridor’s 24 km as central to the plan. Our concept targets the urban and ecological nodes in which these streams of the city mingle. To expand their impact, we will use strategies, including: iconic mobile culture hubs that can host performances and installations, expansive structural and botanical hybrids, and integrated mobility networks. Central to all of these strategies and the others that follow is a sense of movement. The Rail Corridor should act as a living thing—transporting people, ideas, and wildlife throughout the country to nourish the national identity and spirit.

City Tech Courtyard

2017 - Brooklyn, NY, USA

City Tech Courtyard

Brooklyn, NY, USA

CLIENT The City University of New York, City Tech Campus / STATUS Under Construction / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Inc. / Perkins Eastman

The new LEED CUNY City Tech Academic Building in Brooklyn New York, was created as a landscape that forms a continuous surface from the sidewalk entrance through the lobby to a garden courtyard. The idea is to enliven the public spaces and create a sense of the garden in the lobby.  The design plays with a pixilated pattern of the paving that feathers into the lobby and auditorium and then fades into the courtyard. 

The pattern extrudes in the entry garden to become shallow reflecting pools made of stone that catch light when turned on and are sculptural objects when turned off. The pattern fades from paved to planting along the curtain wall edge and lobby with both exterior and interior plantings. As the pattern moves through to the courtyard- again the ratio of green to paved transforms into a lush garden with a perimeter of planting. Low water native plantings are used and materials will be chosen for their sustainability, reflectivity and efficiency. Recycled water for reflecting pools and irrigation could also be used as part of the design.  


Main Avenue Bridge Underpass

2015 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Main Avenue Bridge Underpass

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

CLIENT Downtown Cleveland Alliance / STATUS Competition finalist 2015 / SIZE 3.1 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Tillet Associates and artist Stacy Levy

The approach we took jointly as a group, Balmori Associates, Tillet Associates, and artist Stacy Levy, has been to take on specific conditions of the site and work with them to increase the site’s human use and enjoyment. One of these conditions is that of the wind blowing under the bridge, an effect of its location by the water and the bridge’s channeling effect. Another is that of the darkness under the bridge particularly at the intersection of Ninth and Main Streets. The third condition is that of the great fields of paving, which impart to the site its character of being a place only for cars, not people.

From its beginning Cleveland has been indelibly linked to both Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River both as a key piece of infrastructure fueling the economy of the city and as a defining part of the cultural identity of the city. Lake Erie also defines the environment and climate that Cleveland residents reside in. The great lakes region is a special ecological system creating micro-climates around it banks.

A series of suspended trucking tarp strips transform what was considered on the fringe of downtown into a spectacle of industry and recreation, making the invisible force of the wind visible. Lake Effect is a strategic intervention on an urban scale capable of linking to development, public spaces, and destinations in the Flats Entertainment District and Warehouse District. Lake Effect is a bright and lively gesture reflective of The Flats rich industrial heritage and responsive to the thriving waterfront district to come.

Botanical Research Institute of Texas

2011 - Fort Worth, TX, USA

Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Fort Worth, TX, USA

CLIENT Botanical Research Institute of Texas / SIZE 12 acres + Green Roof & Walls / STATUS Completed 2011 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture  /  LEED Platinum Certification

Given the heat and the continuous presence of the Texas sun, the play of light andshade became a design frame. Water management was very important in this project since droughts are followed by torrential rains.  The parking lot along with the roofs is part of an active stormwater management system and research field, an ecological working system. Water then needs to be contained, cleaned and stored for drought-period reuse.  Additionally, the water collected from roofs is stored in a cistern and reused for supplying a pond and for watering plants in a drought, and the roof. The green roof is also a niche for preserving the beautiful Fort Worth Prairie in a new form for the future. 

The main entrance, which unites the Botanical Research Institute to the Botanic Garden consists of a major display of plantings based on “Systematics,” a type of research which is the core mission of BRIT. BRIT describes systematics as research seeking an understanding of evolutionary relationships among species—in other words, looking at species not as fixed entities but as evolving systems. Another element of our design is the representation of the Fort Worth Prairie geological strata: thin limestone and sands are recast as a set of seating ledges for the outdoor education space. The sustainable image of the institute is broadcast also by the walls of the herbarium which are designed with overlapping vines.

St. Louis Riverfront Masterplan

2005 - St. Louis, MO, USA

St. Louis Riverfront Masterplan

St. Louis, MO, USA

CLIENT Great Rivers Greenway District / STATUS 2005 / SIZE 3/4 miles, 44 acres  DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, HOK Planning Group, Greenberg Consultant , CDG engineers, ABNA Engineering, Consulmar, Moffat and Nichol, Vector Communications.

In 2005, Balmori Associates was selected as lead landscape designer for the St. Louis Riverfront Project, an 80 acre site located at the foot of the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Throughout the years, The Gateway Arch has stood in celebration of St. Louis’ prominence on the banks of the Mississippi River, but access to these banks has been underwhelming.  With the St. Louis Riverfront Masterplan, Balmori Associates’ aims to reconnect people with the Mississippi by providing year round recreation on the water, an integrated bicycle and pedestrian system, a terraced riverwalk, event areas for large gatherings, and docking for local riverboats.

During the Master Planning Phase, four principles emerged as the strategies that would guide the St. Louis Riverfront Master Plan: Experience the nature and presence of the river, Create new Connections, Develop New Spaces and Complement the City.  Through site models, plans, sections and montages, Balmori Associates developed four schemes for the St. Louis Riverfront.  During the design process, Balmori Associates participated in two public forums.  Designed as an open house, the forums brought over 400 residents to evaluate each design concept.  As a result, the most ambitious scheme, Terraces & Islands, was selected.  This scheme’s terraced river edge, floating walkways and floating islands will allow for new inhabitation of the river in ways never seen before.  The project’s completion is set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Gateway Arch.  


2012 - Atlantic City, NJ, USA


Atlantic City, NJ, USA

CLIENT Atlantic City / SIZE 7.5 acre rectangle  / STATUS Completed, 2012 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Fung Collaboratives 

Located in proximity to Atlantic City famous boardwalk, Artlantic: Wonder Park serves the community as a public venue for art and an urban amenity providing green space. The landscape complements the art, and does not compete with it. Winding paths lead the viewers through the landscape. 

Occupy the Dune

2013 - New York, NY, USA

Occupy the Dune

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Moma PS1 (Rockaway Call for Ideas) / STATUS Winning Proposal 2013 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

In March 2013, MoMA PS1 invited artists and designers to rethink the post-Sandy Rockaways, a peninsula of Long Island located in the New York City borough of Queens. The competition sought ideas for alternative housing models, creation of social spaces, urban interventions, the rebuilding of the boardwalk, protection of the shoreline, and actions to engage local communities in the effort to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy.      

Balmori’s “Occupy the Dune” was among the twenty-five proposals exhibited on Rockaway Beach. Balmori proposed an infrastructure as the center for civic activity, capable of protecting the community while connecting it socially and ecologically. Vegetation that colonizes the dunes surface is the most critical part of the ecosystem, adding strength and stability against extreme blunt winds and storm surge. Many inhabited coastal areas have flat beaches that leave the city exposed to violent storm events. Creating dunes makes these areas more resilient, but can separate the community from the coastal landscape. The protected area formed between the primary and secondary dunes is less sensitive, allowing this interstitial space to become a linear park capable of hosting an array of civic and recreational activities.

Prefabricated concrete storm drainage boxes are used to create void spaces in the base of the dunes, leaving room for different types of programs that can evolve over time. The flexible void spaces can accommodate temporary housing for displaced residents, community activities, cabanas, cafes, retail shops, and can act as passages between city and coastal landscape.

AWARDS: Winning Proposal, Moma PS1 - Rockaway Call for Ideas

PRESS: ArchDaily