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.

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.

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.

684 Broadway

2007 - NEW YORK, NY, USA



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.