The 21st Century Park

2003 - Chicago, IL, USA

The 21st Century Park

Chicago, IL, USA

CLIENT The Graham Foundation / STATUS Competition 2003 / SIZE 1.5 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Artist Brian Tolle

 The 21st Century Park is a backbone threaded into the city – not an isolated mass serving one area.

The 21st Century Park is a way to flow through the city – not just a destination.

The 21st Century Park is a filter, healing, cleaning, purifying air/water, an active environmental engine.

The 21st Century Park is a spine threaded through the city which gives you a way to flow through it. It creates oases along its length. The aesthetics are drawn from how the parts are organized in space.

The 21st Century Park engages streets – doesn’t leave them out.

The 21st Century Park is a tool for intervening in the City.

I got up this morning, it’s Saturday, and decided to go for a run in that new park they just finished.  A piece of it runs three blocks from my house but you can go all the way downtown on it.

The 21st Century Park is a spine threaded through the city which gives you a way to flow through it.

Took the street down from my stop on the EL. It is nice and narrow, full of crabs and haws with chunks of prairie on the sidewalks.

The 21st Century Park engages streets – Doesn’t leave them out.

As I am coming towards the shore between the trees and shrubs I find myself on the water on a boardwalk with green islands on each side. There is such a great view out here.  I see water forever on one side, the shore on the other, lots of birds singing as I run along it.

The 21st Century Park is a filter of healing, cleaning, and purifying the air and the water along it.

Went down towards Hollywood Beach, by way of the new walk in front of the towers, to get a friend of mine to go running with me.  His apartment is on the 12th floor and it is great to look down and see all the green islands.

 The 21st Century Park is a tool for intervening in the City.

 Let’s go swimming, my friend said, so we changed, took along some towels, went out to the curving pier and dove into the water.  We took a kayak out after that and had fun going in and out of the water lagoons created by the boardwalks, where the water was clear and calm, and then in the choppy waters outside.

The 21st Century Park is a spine which creates oases along its length. The aesthetics are drawn from how the parts are organized in space.

The Winter Garden at the World Financial Center

2002 - New York, NY, USA

The Winter Garden at the World Financial Center

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Olivia and York, World Financial Center / STATUS Completed 1988, Restored 2002 / SIZE 18,000 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Pelli Cesar Pelli

The Winter Garden in Battery Park City’s World Financial Center serves as the cultural center of the 3.5-acre complex. This glass hall is the main connector of all public circulation within the project and with the World Trade Center site. Its success as a public space is due in part to its dedicated programming staff; Balmori Associates worked closely with them, carefully laying out all the activities desired in the space before designing its paving, landscape, and circulation.

After suffering severe damage in the September 11th attacks, the Winter Garden underwent a $50 million renovation, reopening a year later. The passageway leading to the World Trade Center has been replaced by a glass façade, providing a new entryway to the space as well as a view of Ground Zero. Visitors to the garden descend a huge semi-circular staircase from the upper level to the palm grove below. The garden’s glass walls are lined with shops and restaurants; movable public seating can be adjusted around the space’s perimeter. Newly created galleries along the walls host exhibitions.

Sixteen palms are planted in a rectilinear grove, with the floor around them paved in diagonal patterns of imported marble. The palm variety is Washingtonia Robusta, a native American tree with a narrow trunk and lush foliage, rugged enough to withstand the hall’s dry environment and wide temperature range.

Fashion Institute of Technology

2003 - New York, NY, USA

Fashion Institute of Technology

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Fashion Institute of Technology  / STATUS Competition Entry 2003 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Joel Sanders Architect 

Woven or knitted, textiles link the diverse disciplines and departments that make up FIT, from fashion (fabric) to painting (canvas). Hence, the theme of textiles informed our entry to an invited competition for a new interdepartmental classroom building at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Our well-dressed building is clad in an ensemble of materials – woven glass on the exterior and gold carpeting and upholstery on the interior – to weave together a series of interactive spaces for the FIT community. From the soaring street-level atrium to the administrative roof terrace, this golden “thread” defines a continuous circulation path through the building, activated along its length by multipurpose student activity zones.  The project is fully sustainable, featuring natural ventilation, daylight, and green roofs, all aimed at improving quality of life while increasing energy efficiency. The building’s unique cladding creates a breathable membrane that shields the building from the elements while permitting it to draw energy and air directly from the outside environment.  

The Highline Park

2003 - New York, NY, USA

The Highline Park

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT Friends of the Highline / STATUS Competition Finalist, 2nd Place, 2003  / SIZE 1.5 miles / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM, Studio MDA, Studio MDA, Merill LLP

When The High Line is redeveloped, it will bring an exciting range of new spaces into play for New Yorkers. The team recognizes that the qualities of movement through these spaces will define the potentials of The High Line, and that understanding these must be the primary outcome of the design work.The redevelopment of the High Line demanded multidisciplinary teamwork at the highest levels of creativity and design experience. The team established by Zaha Hadid Architects, Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP and studioMDA linked together these world-class offices with substantial building experience into a networked studio for excellence in urban design.

Each of these offices is renowned for well-defined strengths and specializations, and yet together they have discovered a common language and approach in responding to the spatial and temporal challenges underlying the project. The creative adaptation and reuse of old structures typically requires that we suspend our preconceptions of their uses and qualities, and one of the best ways of opening our thinking to new possibilities occurs through the thoughtful process of graphic abstraction for which Zaha Hadid’s office is famous. The team discovered a natural synergy in this approach, for it enabled open discussion of a complex range of issues and details long before deciding on specific uses and placements. 

Washington Mall

2012 - Washington, DC, USA

Washington Mall

Washington, DC, USA

CLIENT United States Washington Mall / STATUS Competition 2012 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Work AC, Jacbos, ARUP, Local Projects, Quinn Evans, CMS Fountain Consultant, AIK Yann Kersale, Sherwood Design Engineers, LERA, JVP Engineers, F2 Environmental Design, Alice Walters / PHOTOS Courtesy Work AC

Throughout Washington DC’s history, the National Mall has represented the heart of the city and, by extension, the nation. The Mall’s landscape is as diverse as its uses: hosting protests and celebrations, accommodating vast crowds and intimate moments and paying homage to the past and the future. Like the country it represents, the Mall reflects the difference, offering the hardiness of “landscape” as a counterpoint to the formal austerity of its buildings and monuments.

The Sylvan Way project is organized by a landform that flows east-west across the site, beginning with a new Oak Grove at the corner of 15th Street, which hosts an intimate Sylvan Theater for informal performances for up to 100 spectators. The landform continues and curves around to create the grass bowl for large spectacles, and bends back again to create the second grove, within which we have placed a “Sylvan Restaurant.” The line continues to create a playground within a small valley of ponds fed by a previously buried stream, and then carefully curls around the restored Survey Lodge to rise again in a gently angled lawn, which conceals a new maintenance shed. From this point, a new “cherry blossom” bridge leads to the Jefferson Memorial, bringing it and the MLK memorial closer to the Mall, extending the cherry walk and eliminating the confusing side trek which now requires three road crossings. This bridge touches down midway between streets in newly created wetlands, which help regulate water on the site.

The primary landscape element of our scheme is the Sylvan Bowl, a grand new public space for the  Mall where visitors can linger in the shade to see spectacles, picnic, or to attend an NPS presentation. The grassy space is strategically “sylvaned” with trees, creating a shaded lawn where people can picnic, and rest. For the first time, people will be able to look directly up at the Monument behind a performance and enjoy everything from an intimate concert to a major event attended comfortably by 3,000 or even 10,000.

The Sylvan Bowl’s stage is a stone circle 65 feet in diameter. Harkening back to the original 1916 Sylvan Theater, it includes a  curtain of mist for this stage. When nothing is being performed, this will act as a fountain and play area for children. The simple materials of the stone stage surrounded by a thin channel of water, become part of the Sylvan environment of trees and grass. Other performance spaces include a small wooden stage in the Oak Grove, where a group of up to 100 can gather under the trees; another small stage close to the Survey Lodge; finally a smaller one in a courtyard of the building.. 

The design plays a dual role in reviving the historical on the site, while introducing elements of the contemporary. For the historical, the Monument and Survey Lodges are restored and their interiors redesigned; the mist curtain and grassy slope refer back to the original Sylvan Theatre of 1916; and the emphasis on theater recalls the importance of theater in the lives of Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln. Our present and future is represented by our focus on sustainability and the creation of a closed loop of soil recreation, water reuse, planting, recycling, and food production on site. With this approach, we enter the arena of our own times.

The “Sylvan Restaurant” is set within a new grove of trees at the west edge of the grass to accommodate the different programs creating three interior courtyards. The roof is a publicly-accessible spiral that supports a bounteous herb and vegetable garden for the restaurant, further emphasizing the site’s “bridge to Jefferson” and recalling Monticello’s embrace of agricultural landscape as an element in a uniquely American take on classical architecture. Each level of the building is seamlessly connected both internally and externally, through the publicly-accessible courtyards and rooftop. Within every level, the building’s functions intertwine with each other to become something more: a cafeteria formed around an open kitchen; a bookstore that doubles as a ”cultural gateway” to everything artistic happening in DC and that backs up on a flexible space for lectures, readings, performances; a restaurant that steps up to better and better views of the mall and where park rangers can eat lunch with visitors.

The second level, accessible directly from the top of the slope or via the largest courtyard accommodates the bookstore, the flexible event space and the entrance to a smaller full-service restaurant. We imagine, together with Local Projects, the bookstore as a “cultural gateway” to DC, providing up-to-the-minute information via electronic graphics and kiosks on the cultural life of the city.

The Survey Lodge has been re-imagined as a place to rent wheelchairs, electric vehicles and recreational equipment. It has also been reconfigured to accommodate a vastly expanded number of bathrooms and is designed to provide a major rest-stop for tour buses and passers-by. This slope also provides gentle access to the new Cherry Blossom Bridge which leads from here across the wetlands to join the existing cherry walk and access the Jefferson and Martin Luther King memorials.

The Monument Lodge will continue to serve in its historic role as the ticketing location for the Washington Monument. By removing the bookstore to the new Sylvan Restaurant building, the bathrooms and indoor ticketing accommodation can both be expanded and improved.

13 Acres // East Clayton Public Park & School

2000 - East Clayton, Canada

13 Acres // East Clayton Public Park & School

East Clayton, Canada

CLIENT East Clayton / STATUS Competition 2000 / SIZE 13 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

The 13 acre site is surrounded by a New Urbanist style, Sustainable Community Master Plan developed between 1997-2000. Based on principles of sustainability and complete communities, the plan includes the application of innovative servicing, stormwater management, road standard, and neighborhood planning ideas.

The Livable Region Strategic Plan, the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s vision of land use and transportation sets out four broad strategies for achieving urban growth in the Lower Mainland region.  These include protecting the green zone, building complete communities, achieving a compact metropolitan region, and increasing transportation choice. The Clayton area was identified as a “suburban”, and East Clayton as a new “urban” neighborhood.

At the same time, complete communities also protect the quality and integrity of ecosystems by maintaining environmentally sensitive areas (i.e., natural flow-receiving watercourses), and by managing the quantity and quality of storm-water runoff.

Rosario Civic Center

2001 - Rosario, Argentina

Rosario Civic Center

Rosario, Argentina

CLIENT Municipalidad de Rosario / STATUS Constructed 2001 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Pelli Clarke Pelli

South Garden        

Option A: a space defined by an hedge of flowering shrubs and grass in the center with a largetree as focal point. A water element (a small cast iron fountain ) and benches around the space will be included to animate it. The possibility of using this space for the wedding ceremonies or for the reception after the wedding was accepted and Arq. Vidal encouraged usto continue exploring it.

Option B: a central space planted with flowering trees in an elliptical shape, surrounded by grass and shrubs. In this case the benches are under the gallery.

Civic Plaza

Conceived as a hard plaza with a paving pattern that emphasizes the axis and the inclusion of benches and a water element if the possibility of closing the plaza by night exists. We discussed the issue of the security by night and although we believed that the Café and the Health Center would generate activity, Arq. Vidal advised us to consider the inclusion of a gate. He also commented about the need to contemplate some outdoor furniture for the bar. We also talked about the importance of the “ totem’s” location in the Plaza as the symbolic element ofthe Civic Center.

North Garden

A space for basketball practice and a space for sitting under a large tree with stepping stones and a drinking fountain. The surrounding walls will be treated with a kind of brick (nido de abeja) which allows the light to go through. Vines are proposed on the top. Arq. Vidal suggested to treat the space as an outdoor waiting room for the Health Center instead of a playfield.


Option A: large trees spaced 9 to 10 m in between them.

Option B: For the streets with parking places we proposed large trees combined with small trees in between them. For the other two streets, we proposedlarge trees spaced 10 m in between them . The species used are Jacaranda and Tipa. The access of public to the Civic Center would be primarily by bus, secondarily place by walk and bike and in the latter by car. Arq. Vidal express the need of provide bike racks (aprox. 20 units). He also suggested including a drop off for the Registro Civil. Anotherissue that was considered is the possibility of proposing a roof garden in some of the buildings as an improvement in the mechanical systems of heating and cooling.

Maral Explanada

2015 - Mar del Plata, Argentina

Maral Explanada

Mar del Plata, Argentina

CLIENT Maral SIZE 264,000 ft2 / 25,000 m2 / STATUS Completed 2015 DESIGN TEAM
Balmori Associates / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Located by the sea in Argentina’s largest beach resort city, Maral Explanada consists of a sloped landscaped terrain connecting three residential towers. The site sits above the rocky Atlantic shoreline at Playa Chica, one of Mar del Plata’s well-known beaches.

The three towers — 19, 21 and 23 stories tall — are arranged around a series of terrace gardens planted with indigenous plants. At the base of the tallest tower is a stepped, stone-clad podium with an accessible rooftop garden. Inside this podium is a large gym and indoor pool shared by the three towers.

From the base of the towers, the land drops steeply to the sea. The landscape design mediates this 10-meter incline with a series of terraces that recreate the natural coastline. The terraces include spaces for walking and leisure, as well as an outdoor swimming pool. Native Argentine salt resistant species of various textures delineate the property’s boundaries separating private from public.

Institute for Advanced Studies

1996 - Princeton, NJ

Institute for Advanced Studies

Princeton, NJ

CLIENT Institute for Advanced Study / SIZE 15,000 Sq ft. / STATUS Completed 1996 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Inc. / Van Zelm, Spiegel & Zamecnik, Inc. / Geotech; Melick-Tully & Associates , Inc. 

A spare quadrangle enclosed by cherry trees sits at the campus’ eastern edge; a vista towards the woods stretches out on one side of a vast open lawn. A traditional slate blackboard, a surface from within the buildings, is now a built outdoor element, to be written on and erased by the mathematicians passing through the courtyard.

Several feet away, two copper-clad slabs sit perpendicular to each other, forming a corner. Water streams continually down their surfaces and leaves a lasting mark visible in the winter when the water is turned off. These minimal components, with changing markings, are a modern reworking of the traditional elements of fountain and wall.

The courtyard is organized to provide access to the two buildings while maintaining an expansive central area where outdoor recitals may be held or individuals can sit under the cherry trees that define the edges of the courtyard.

Hua Qiang Bei Road

2011 - Shenzhen, China

Hua Qiang Bei Road

Shenzhen, China

CLIENT Bureau City Government of Shenzhen /  STATUS Commissioned 2011, Under Development / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Work AC / ARUP / Zhubo Engineering / Zhubo

In 2010 Balmori Associates and Work AC won an invited competition to redesign a 1 kilometer section of Hua Qiang Bei Road in Shenzhen. The design responds to the area’s growing commercial character by improving flows, organizing traffic and enhancing the pedestrian environment with a green streetscape.

To strengthen the identity of Hua Qiang Bei Road we created a series of nodes of activity that project a vibrant new vision for the district’s future. These nodes take on different scales. The most visible are the five “lanterns” that define a new space of the street, in the sky, providing connections and enabling a major expansion of public space. We imagine the “lanterns” to resonate with the famous entrance gates to traditional Chinese streets, creating a strong and memorable image. The lanterns are like the needles of acupuncture: used at only a few, precise points to bring energy and organize the flows around them, letting the street breathe better between. They are also bridges, connecting one side of the street to the other. We also provided a wide variety of shade trees and seating types, our designed fountains and paving will improve both air flow and pedestrian flow.

This is a new kind of urban design approach, we call it urban acupuncture: acting precisely and strategically to get through all the channels to create the maximum impact using minimal means. We use a systematic and synthetical Urban design method to combines the softness of landscape design, the precision of traffic engineering, and the power of architecture to improve flows, strengthen identity, and create new public space.


Housatonic Fields Brass Trail

2006 - Monroe, CT, USA

Housatonic Fields Brass Trail

Monroe, CT, USA

SIZE 1 mile site/5 mile loop  / STATUS Commissioned Study, 2006 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates

Balmori Associates’ Master Plan for a waterfront park and recreational trail in a quaint, New England town weaves the language of the abandoned railroad spine into the new heart of the town: a waterfront park, a recreational trail, and a new recreational facility for the public and local school systems.  Currently the town framework includes an under-utilized waterfront park, an intact town green with local retail, a historic railroad station structure on the site, and a former industrial building available for conversion to new use.  The town has the resources, and Balmori Associates’ proposal envisions a new future with a park as a catalyst for economic growth and a model to direct future development in a positive direction.

Harrisburg U.S. Courthouse

2017 - Harrisburg, PA, USA

Harrisburg U.S. Courthouse

Harrisburg, PA, USA

CLIENT United States Courthouse / STATUS Under Design 2017 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates /EnneadArchitects LLP

The landscape for the United States Courthouse in Harrisburg can be seen as a vessel for judicial functions, and also as a cultural eventscape that reinvigorates part of the city. The project creates a bold new highly articulated topographic surface that acts as a device mediating between building and site and site and surrounding urban environment. The landscape for the Federal Courthouse helps to synthesize and merge these environments. It aspires to create a new civic vision for the future of Harrisburg while recalling many of the regional and historical aspects of the city: the topography of the Blue Mountain escarpment, geological maps of the region, and the sinuous forms of the adjacent rail yard. The landscape of the courthouse, like the city itself, is borne out of an array of ideas that begin to overlap and intertwine forming a composite that contains traces of the past while providing a new civic future for Harrisburg.

Ground Zero Viewing Wall

2003 - New York, NY, USA

Ground Zero Viewing Wall

New York, NY, USA

CLIENT LMDC / STATUS Completed 2003 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Pelli Clarke Pelli 

Temporary memorials arose as a way for both city residents and visitors to respond immediately to the events of September 11th --areas for grieving sprang up on fences, traffic islands in downtown Manhattan and fire stations throughout the city. While the pairing of the terms ‘temporary’ and ‘memorial’ is seemingly contradictory, this juxtaposition adds a certain resolution that exists for a fixed period in time. Balmori Associate’s viewing wall for Ground Zero looks to those spontaneous, short-lived responses as a way to capture a specific moment of our grief.

Ground Zero’s perimeter enclosure was imminent, as the Port Authority announced plans for a 40-foot long fence around the site; as a response, Balmori Associates generated ideas for the enclosure, presenting them in model form at a meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects at the Max Protetch gallery.

The proposal was sent to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the Port Authority developed an alternate plan based on Balmori Associates’ design.  New York New Visions, a committee of design professionals concerned with the rebuilding effort, further revised the proposal during a weekend charrette. The Port Authority then produced construction documents, modifying our suggestions but keeping our original idea of transparency and setbacks.  The final viewing wall was 13 feet high with 5-foot setbacks where visitors were able to leave mementos to be collected on a regular basis.

The structure is also a sort of construction fence-a regular feature at every construction site in the city since John D. Rockefeller put one specifically designed for viewing the construction of Rockefeller Center in the 1930s- an acknowledgement of the public’s legitimate inclusion in urban development. 

The name of the structure changed from “construction fence” to “perimeter enclosure” and then to “viewing wall” to reflect an awareness of its public role.

Yongdusan Complex Master Plan

2008 - Busan, Korea

Yongdusan Complex Master Plan

Busan, Korea

STATUS Competition Winner, 2008 / SIZE 439,171 m2 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / iArc / Kerl Yoo

D-City is a 21st Century model of ecological design; responding to new ways of living and offering exciting new perspectives of landscape and the urban context. Within an existing city park area, a new public park and separate commercial area have been built on mutual synergies. Architecture and program is woven through the landscape by subtle shifts of the surface.  The organic shapes morph into the towers.

The towers are a reflection of the natural elevations of the mountains and emerge from the ground as eco-towers and rise as a new landmark for Busan. The existing public square is restored and accommodates a variety of programs. 


Yaktusk Museum of the Mammoth

2007 - Yaktusk, Russia

Yaktusk Museum of the Mammoth

Yaktusk, Russia

CLIENT Yaktusk / STATUS Competition Winner 2007 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Leeser Architecture

The Museum of the Mammoth sits on a vast, flat site on the edge of Yakutsk in eastern Siberia. The view across the site is brilliantly interrupted by the rise of a hill, the Tchoutchour Mouran. This natural folding of the land is where a new Museum hovers. Taking cues from the upturned ground, a box- the most simple, compact, and efficient of containers- rises in emulation of the angle of the hill.

The site design itself takes cues from the regional landscape. Based on patterned ground formations that occur above permafrost, the landscape design is both aesthetically and ecologically reminiscent of the natural patterns found near Yakutsk. The difference lies in the soils; the Museum site is likely artificially filled and may not behave as natural soils do. The imposed pattern is therefore adaptable to change over time.

United States Institute of Peace

2011 - Washington, DC, USA

United States Institute of Peace

Washington, DC, USA

CLIENT United States Institute of Peace / STATUS Completed 2011 / SIZE 114,300 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Moshe Safdie and Associates

The Peace Institute’s landscape is designed as a garden; a garden that surrounds a circular foyer for groups to gather at the front of the Peace and Education Center. This foyer is contained, first of all, by semicircular benches which curve inwards around a long table with individual stools; contained beyond by “living walls” which separate the space from the two busy streets which intersect at its corner. The living walls are undulating walls of concrete which flow through the gardens and paths at various angles and heights. These inclined walls are draped with plants or contain pockets of planting. In several places they allow water to run down them and are lighted. These living walls serve several functions. They serve, first, as a line of security around the building’s perimeter. Second, they hide the constant movement of traffic around the two main streets by the site. Third, because they are planted they give the sense of a broader, thicker surface increasing the sensed distance from the traffic.

Flowering trees and perennials add their color and texture to the enclosure in white and purple. White as a symbol of peace and as a reassertion of the white color of the wing-like roof of Moshe Safdie’s building. Purple used with restraint sets up the white more dramatically. The plants have been also chosen for scent, so that visitors are enveloped in perfume, color, and water once they enter the precinct. Beyond the circular foyer, the public passes by the edge of the terrace which fronts the building, but which you can enter only from the inside. The edge of the terrace allows for a view at the exhibition space below. The terrace itself is an extension of the Great Hall within. At this point , the visitor has dramatic views of the atrium and its translucent hovering roof above. As the public ascends toward the entrance there are also long views toward the Institute’s gardens to the west.