Professor of Urban Studies and Architecture Hilary Ballon passed away on June 16, 2017, at age 61. Ballon, who taught at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, was also the deputy vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi. She was a part of the leadership team that oversaw development of the new campus while teaching classes on urbanism and architecture.
Her academic research focused on cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life, especially New York City. She was a curator of several exhibitions at the Skyscraper Museum and the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), with subjects including Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Moses, New York’s Penn Station, and the city’s grid system.
“Hilary’s exhibition and accompanying book on Robert Moses helped re-frame our understanding of modern urban planning,” Stephen Petrus, a colleague of Ballon at MCNY, wrote in The New York Times. “Hilary was the rare scholar able to earn the respect of academic colleagues and appeal to the public at large.”
An author of several acclaimed architecture and urbanism books, Ballon published New York’s Pennsylvania Stations, Louis Le Vau: Mazarin’s College, Colbert’s Revenge (winner of the Prix d’Academie from the Academie Francaise), and The Paris of Henri IV: Architecture and Urbanism, which won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Prize for the Most Distinguished Work in Architectural History and is widely cited as a model for its consideration of urban planning in relation to social, political, and economic forces. As Editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), she developed a multimedia platform—including GIS and 3D models—with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Ballon served on the Board of Directors of the Museum of the City of New York, the Regional Plan Association, and the Skyscraper Museum, and was a member of the Advisory Council of the Princeton School of Architecture. She was a professor at Columbia University for 22 years, where she received various teaching awards, before joining NYU in 2007. According to the New York Times, Ballon is survived by her husband Orin Kramer, her children, Sophie and Charles, her brother Howard, and her sister Carla Gorrell. Funeral services will be held at Central Synagogue, 55th Street and Lexington Ave., on Monday, June 19th at 1pm.