Smithson Floating Island

2005 - NEW YORK, NY, USA



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.

Silvercup Studios

2005 - NEW YORK, NY, USA



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. 

Shanghai Cultural Plaza

2005- Shanghai, China

Shanghai Cultural Plaza

Shanghai, China

CLIENT City of Shanghai / STATUS Competition finalist, 2005 / SIZE 16 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Beyer Blinder Belle

This park emerges as a continuous green gesture that unifies the diverse built elements of this urban site. The site is fragmented by remnants of various stages of urban development: historic residential buildings, a spaceframe canopy, an underground subway station, and a tree-lined street with bars and restaurants. These disparate pieces have been incorporated into a variety of park spaces through topography, planting and built elements.

A water garden surrounding the historic homes flows into the rest of the park as a series of water pools. A landform ramps below grade to extend the surface of the park to meet the underground subway exit.  A continuous balcony is built on the backside of existing bars and restaurants to open street life onto the park. New features such as a performing arts center and an amphitheater complete the transformation of this site and its diverse built elements into a dynamic cultural space.


Qing Huang Dao Park

2005 - Bejing, China

Qing Huang Dao Park

Bejing, China

CLIENT City of Qinghuandao / SIZE 98 acres / STATUS Competition Winner, 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / MAD Architects Office

The entry for the Qinghuangdao Park invited competition consists of juxtaposed landscapes, extreme in their differences, some indigenous, some foreign.  Five ecological zones compose a landscape mosaic: tidal marsh, dune prairie meadow, red pine forest, oak woodland, and finally a purely urban landscape.  The landscapes have been jumbled and mixed to produce intense experiences.  Woven together by active recreational programming, a network of paths, and architecture, they appeal to a wide variety of senses—smell, sign, touch.

The entire seaside site reads as one landscape that reveals its richness within each mosaic. The division of the parcels and landscape mosaics may take many forms. The contrasts between program and landscape in each parcel enliven the mosaic and create unique public and private spaces such as a spa in the marsh and a camping in the dunes. The development parcels paired with landscape mosaics are an innovative model of ecological design and development.


Asian Culture Complex

2005 - Gwangju, Korea

Asian Culture Complex

Gwangju, Korea

CLIENT Executive Agency for Culture Cities / MCT / SIZE 118,170 m2 / STATUS Competition, honorable mention, 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / iArc, LLP

The Asian Culture Complex should be a place where new culture emerges, rather than manufactured by institutions. Emergence can be achieved by maximizing social contacts, in other words, network complexity. As an urban strategy, differentiation of the whole site into smaller parts is executed by continuing existing and neighboring urban fabric, further being transformed by programmatic interpretations. Then the parts are connected with each other according to specific relationships between sub-programs, forming a 3D complex of nested networks. Two distinct network organizations emerge out of it; programmatic network (shop¬ping, eating & drinking, learning, conferencing, showing & playing, working and living) and ecological network (park, water and wind). The interest is in generating urban capability of producing a flexible system that is dynamically adaptable, a creative system that can adjust itself freely to temporal events and urban challenges. The differentiated connectivity of each network plays a vital role in modulating its emergent system. The question of what is culture and what is Asian will be constantly redefined and re-generated by means of this new urban system

The technique of generating a form for composites of landscape and architecture is instigated from close reading of spatial organization of existing urban fabric. Seemingly random urban development which pervades the central district of Gwangju, in fact, reveals an intricate sys¬tem of connected interstitial spaces. Alleys, courtyards, plazas, sometimes a large private front yard for an institution, are interconnected each other, bounded by elaborate randomness of buildings around. The relationship between buildings and open spaces is reinterpreted as positive/negative of a relief and generates a latent 3D pattern for a new typology between landscape and architecture.

Parque de la Luz

2005 - Canary islands, Spain

Parque de la Luz

Canary islands, Spain

CLIENT Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria / SIZE 4,000 acres / STATUS Competition winner, 2005 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli

The Park of The Light is designed as a fundamental change of infrastructures, from a hard infrastructure of an ancient port to a soft one of living systems, producing a beautiful green belt in the middle of the water. This living system cleans the water, protects against the wind, and provides an inviting setting for visitors and residents. The park creates a remarkable postcard image of Las Palmas for the ships who anchor to his edge.

Bands of the interface between the sea and the ground, previously lost to urban development, are re-created to improve the quality of the water and diminish the environmental impact of the marina.  The straight angles of the bulkhead, which would normally accumulate sediment, are filled to become floating islands of vegetation. These refuges are in direct contact with the daily changes of the tides, forming diverse biological communities that contribute to the health of the water by oxygenating and purifying it from pollutants.

Separate channels at opposite ends of the marina promote flow-through currents, directing the flow of the water towards the center of the marina. This diminishes future costs by protecting the bulkhead structures from water erosion.