Metis Garden Festival

2011 - Grand-Métis, Quebec, Canada

Metis Garden Festival

Grand-Métis, Quebec, Canada

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

Water introduces a powerful horizontal allowing the eye to extend far over its flat surface and wide along the horizon, producing a particularly pleasurable experience which becomes an inseparable part of the landscape experience. We researched devices that manipulate the way one apprehends space and make the viewer more conscious of the act of seeing. The viewing device chosen for this demonstration is a tube or truncated cone (with both ends cut off). The cone restricting the visual field is implemented as a series of planes with a circular opening, the void gradually rising from the ground. When progressing through the frames towards the water focusing on the floating element the field of view opens itself, the horizon gets wider and infinite space offers itself to the viewer.

Loring Park

1995 - Minneapolis, MN, USA

Loring Park

Minneapolis, MN, USA

CLIENT Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board / SIZE 25 acres / STATUS Completed 1995 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Brauer & Associates

In 2005, analysis of this centrally located historic park designed in 1896 by Horace Cleveland revealed that the urban and infrastructure growth of the past century had damaged its historic fabric. The changing character of the park's context required a new type of urban design.

By connecting the park back to the city, the subsequent redesign funded by the Minneapolis Parks Department became a catalyst for redevelopment of downtown businesses, residential areas, and civic institutions.

Athletic and recreational facilities added to the park over the years are now incorporated as treed areas. Pathways open the edges with new entrances reaching across the highway to a pedestrian bridge designed by Siah Armajani. The park's historical character is carefully restored while new modern amenities, such as a theatre performance area and a redesigned horseshoe court are inserted and treated as gardens. The park is re-centered on a Garden for Four Seasons on the site where the park's large greenhouses once sat, serving as the park's axis.

A major highway built along the edge of the park presented a challenge during design because of the noise it created. We proposed treatment of this section of highway with a material used for paving airport landing strips, which diminishes the level of noise by a significant percentage. In addition, the construction of an earthen berm significantly reduced highway noise.

King Abdullah House of Culture & Arts

2009 - Amman, Jordan

King Abdullah House of Culture & Arts

Amman, Jordan

CLIENT Darat King Abdullah II / SIZE 12,000 m2 / STATUS Competition Wnner 2009 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / Zaha Hadid Architects

Located in the heart of the Jordanian capital of Amman, this new venue for the performing arts was an initiative of King Abdullah II to create a place to house all performing arts. Conceived as a complex to become the mayor venue for theater, music, and dance performance in Amman and Jordan, Balmori Associates teamed up with Zaha Hadid Architects to create a vital element of cultural life in the area, and a catalyst of education.

The Performing Arts Centre, the fifth element of the Cultural district, will house a music hall, concert hall, opera house, drama theatre, and an academy of performimg arts designed to foster local and international talent. Designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, the center will be 62 meters high. Zaha Hadid described the design of the Performing Arts Centre as “a sculptural form that emerges from a linear intersection of pedestrian paths within the cultural district, gradually developing into a growing organism that sprouts a network of successive branches. As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth and achieving multiple summits in the bodies housing the performance spaces, which spring from the structure like fruits on a vine and face westward, toward the water.”


Kent Falls Trail

2006 - Kent, CT, USA

Kent Falls Trail

Kent, CT, USA

CLIENT CT Dept of Environmental Protection, CT Dept. of Public Works  / SIZE 1/4 mile trail / STATUS Completed 2006 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Vollmer Associates LLP

A green corridor badly eroded through overuse, poor design, and incompetent earlier construction, is not only restored but re-conceptualized through differing levels of intervention. Views along the quarter mile long route are enhanced and smaller spaces for respite and contemplation are created along the way.

The scheme creates new nodes that serve as optional trail branches at times, special lookouts at others, fulfilling functions that the original trail never had. It also proposes a loop rather than a climb and descent through the same trail, as a way of thinking through the ongoing reconstruction process and responding to the need to deflect the public's attention from areas under construction. 

A very short bridge proposed by a sculptor is to cross the stream above the last waterfall, presenting the opportunity of an artistic intervention and adding interest to the trail path. Excessive traffic is reduced by a return trail on the opposite side of the stream. This bridge is to be financed by the local community. Special attention was given to the construction details and materiality of benches, signage, guardrails, stairs, and walls in order to preserve the park's rural character. Lookouts and small intimate spaces were specifically designed to address the site and frame key views. Atypical and sometimes unexpected moments along the trail were given similar attention to detail in order to heighten the scenic experience

Shenzhen Cultural Park

2003 - Shenzhen, China

Shenzen Cultural Park

Shenzhen, China

CLIENT Shenzhen Municipal Planning & LandInformation Center / STATUS Competition Finalist 2003 / SIZE 136.38 acres / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, MAD Architects Office

Shenzhen Cultural Park reflects an understanding of the forces at work in modern cities and no longer interprets the park as an isolated and passive precinct of the city. It features the park as an active shaper of the city; a conveyor of pedestrians, bikers and skaters; a fluid connector of green system with arms that extend to unite as many living pockets in the city as possible, enhancing the sustainability of all. It is conceived as an active set of strands weaving through the city and enlarging at times into modes of intensified activity and overlapping cultural functions.

Another idea governing the design of this park is that its forms derive from the intersection of landscape and architecture. The landscape is treated as a continuous surface which sculpts the land three-dimensionally according to the city’s particular dynamic and results in layers crossing and weaving; surfaces changing into volumes. Forms result from the intersection of landscape with the roads, buildings, and programs at work in this new city. This intersection of landscape with architecture gives rise to a new entity we call Parkitecture.

June Callwood Park

2009 - Toronto, Canada

June Callwood Park

Toronto, Canada

CLIENT City of Toronto Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation / SIZE 0.4 hectare / STATUS Competition, Finalist 2009 / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates / DTAH

Balmori Associates and DTAH’s competition entry for June Callwood Park on the historic edge of Lake Ontario creates intimate neighborhood pockets along a main path that opens up to Fort York, Coronation Park and the lake. Sculptural forms generated by sun and wind patterns in the park define spaces for recreation and respite allowing for new ways of urban inhabitation and programmatic facility. Slides meander down the slopes and children play in the mist of rubber balloons in an interactive splash park. Rubber surfaces allow for unstructured play and the Fort York Green provides passive play space adjacent to the playground.

The park is shaped to maximize the sun exposure with maximum wind protection. The concave surfaces facilitate stormwater management in an artful manner (once collected in underground cisterns, water can then be used to irrigate the park) and at night they glow with the moonlight.