Posts tagged with "Balmori Associates":

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Remembering César Pelli

The death of César Pelli at 92 on July 19 marked the end of an era. Yet the firm he headed with Fred Clarke and his son Rafael Pelli continues, with dozens of important and innovative projects underway. Pelli’s modest demeanor belied the fact that he and his partners designed over 300 buildings and 68 unrealized or theoretical projects. The best known built works are the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (briefly the tallest buildings in the world), the colorful glass-skinned Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, the complex Cleveland Clinic, the American Embassy in Tokyo, and the recent Salesforce Tower and Transit Center in San Francisco (the tallest building there). In New York, they built the 1977-84 addition to the Museum of Modern Art and its residential tower, the World Financial Center—now dubbed Brookfield Place—in Battery Park City, the unusually contextual Carnegie Hall Tower, the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building in downtown Brooklyn, and the pioneeringly energy-efficient Verdesian apartment building in Battery Park City, along with numerous other buildings that fit into their surroundings so well that they are not easily recognized. An office building for Trinity Church on Wall Street, the Yale Biology Building, the one-million-square-foot Bulfinch Crossing in Boston, a Natural History Museum in Chengdu, China, the Google Tower in Austin, Texas, and 3.3-million-square-foot Union Park in Toronto are among dozens of buildings underway now. Given the size of the practice, the complexity of its projects, their international range, size, scale, and sensitivity to place, it is surprising that the work of Pelli Clark Pelli has not received more critical attention. It is not something the partners sought. Doing innovative work and treating colleagues well has always been the firm’s priorities. César Pelli was one of architecture’s real artists and intellectuals. He was born in the medium-sized city of San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, where one of the most innovative architecture schools in the world opened just before he matriculated. His father, Victor Pelli, was an innovative tinkerer who loved to make things. His mother. Theresa Pelli was a professor at Resistencia, who taught alongside the mother of the woman César would eventually marry, Diana Balmori. They got to know one another in architecture school, and then applied to various graduate programs together around the world. They ended up moving to the United States, where César earned a Master’s degree at the University of Illinois. It was not easy. Other young Argentinians they knew soon returned home. Diana once told me that they sold their wedding presents to make ends meet, but that fact that she spoke excellent English helped. Then, César’s professor recommended that he join the very busy office of Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. That move was not easy for Diana either, who had two young sons, but it was there, on the lush Cranbrook campus, that she developed an interest in landscape design. Saarinen’s office, enriched by the opportunity to design the $100 million, 320-acre General Motors Design Center, had attracted talented young architects from all over the world. César soon became the one Saarinen trusted with some of his most challenging projects. The firm was thriving with numerous enticing commissions. Eero had recently remarried journalist and architecture critic Aline Bernstein Saarinen, who wanted to move to the East Coast where her career, and increasingly Eero’s, was centered. Lonely in Michigan, she often invited the Pellis to join them for lunch. But soon after the birth of their son Eames, Eero developed a brain tumor and died within days. The firm moved to New Haven as planned to finish his work. César was in charge of two of the most challenging projects: the proto-postmodern Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale, which imaginatively acknowledged Gothic Revival buildings nearby, and the TWA Terminal at JFK (then Idlewild) Airport in New York, which has now been restored and turned into the centerpiece of a new hotel. When Saarinen’s work was completed, some associates formed a successor firm, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Partners, but the Pellis instead moved to the booming Los Angeles. César went to work first for the pragmatic commercial firm, Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall from 1965 through 1968, then to Gruen Associates from 1968 through 1976, often collaborating with young talented international architects he had known at the Saarinen firm, such as Anthony J. Lumsden. By the mid-70s, Pelli, who had been teaching part-time at UCLA, decided he would like to work in architectural education. He was offered deanships at UCLA, Harvard, and Yale, that last being where he moved in 1977 and had been living ever since. Soon he was invited to expand the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, so he opened the original Cesar Pelli & Associates office in New Haven, which continued to grow after he stepped down as Yale dean in 1984, but which still operates on an open-minded academic model. Over the years, Pelli worked on and off with Balmori, who herself developed an innovative practice in landscape design. She died in 2016. César Pelli is survived by sons Rafael and Denis, as well as dozens of colleagues, friends, clients, former students, and admirers. His legacy is enormous.
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The Architect's Newspaper remembers Diana Balmori, 1932 – 2016

New York City and the world lost one of the most creative advocates for the now-threatened environment with the death of Diana Balmori on November 14.

An urban and landscape designer, author, historian, and professor, she made a significant impact on the world with her writing, teaching, built work, and advocacy. Her seminal book, Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony in 1993 (Yale University Press, second edition, 2001), was hailed by biologist Edward O. Wilson as a “manual for improving a large part of the American environment.” We need that thinking desperately now.

Plaza Euskadi 2011-2015 from Balmori Associates on Vimeo.

As a designer, Balmori created a Winter Garden with a grove of palm trees at New York City’s Battery Park in the World Financial Center. Her Plaza Euskadi and Campa de los Ingleses Park transformed the old port in Bilbao into the city’s greenest neighborhood. Her Beale Street Landing park in Memphis embraced the Mississippi River, and her master plan for the nine-mile-long hiking and biking trails in New Haven’s Farmington Canal Linear Park connected the Yale campus with surrounding neighborhoods and trails farther afield. Her 2006 master plan for Sejong, the new national-government city outside Seoul, South Korea, connected all the ministries with a landscaped two-and-a-half mile-long linear “Skypark.”

She was born in 1932, in Gijón, Spain. Her mother, Dorothy Ling, an educator and musicologist, was the first woman to receive a degree in music from Cambridge University. Her father, Clemente Hernando, was a linguist at the Instituto de Estudios Históricos in Madrid. The family fled politically turbulent Spain in 1936, eventually settling in Tucumán, Argentina, where Balmori’s father taught at the university and her mother created a network of primary and secondary schools with teaching based on play and folk music.

Balmori enrolled in the architecture program at the National University of Tucumán at 16, and then married a fellow student, Cesar Pelli. The young couple emigrated to the United States, where he went to work for Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and she studied and wrote about the landscape at Cranbrook. After Saarinen’s early death, Pelli finished some of his most important buildings, such as the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. Then the couple moved to Los Angeles where he practiced architecture and she earned a doctorate in history at UCLA.

She taught history at SUNY Oswego and landscape architecture at Yale, and worked as partner in charge of landscape architecture and urban design at Cesar Pelli Associates.

Among her numerous books are Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes: Her Gardens and Campuses (2003) with Diane Kostiel-McGuire, A Landscape Manifesto (2010), Diana Balmori Notebooks (2011), and Drawing and Reinventing Landscape (2014).

Diana Balmori is survived by her husband, sons Denis and Rafael Pelli, granddaughters Delia and Iris Pelli-Walbert, as well as numerous friends and admiring colleagues.

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Landscape architect Diana Balmori passes away

The landscape architect Diana Balmori (1932 - 2016) has died in her sleep. Balmori was a leader in the landscape profession, particularly of designing spaces that interface with architecture. Balmori's firm Balmori Associates was headquartered in New York but she worked in countries all over the globe, such as with her New Government City in South Korea—a zero waste community designed in 2014 and featured in The Architect's Newspaper. In New York, she designed the green roof of Silvercup Studios in Queens, New York, the largest scientifically-monitored green roof in the United States, and a floating garden in the Gowanus Canal. Finally, she was the landscape architect for Robert Smithson’s Floating Island, a barge she designed (in consultation with Smithson’s widow, the artist Nancy Holt) with earth, rocks, and native trees and shrubs, towed by a tugboat around the island of Manhattan in September 2005. The Architect’s Newspaper will publish an extended obituary in its next print edition.
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Diana Balmori launches a vegetated island floating along Brooklyn's toxic Gowanus Canal

Landscape architect Diana Balmori has been planting floating gardens and launching them into the middle of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal only to have the plant life killed off by the Superfund site's toxic waters. "We've been working on this a year," she told AN today along the canal's edge looking at GrowOnUs, her latest floating landscape. "We did three test plantings, but they all died in the canal." The collection of tubes strung together around a pontoon-like structure of 55-gallon plastic drums and hundreds of recycled plastic bottles is an experiment to test the feasibility of growing plants—and eventually food—on larger synthetic islands to help provide local provisions for city dwellers. "Eventually, we would like to create a productive island to grow food and herbs and fruits for city residents," Balmori said. Her team will also monitor the site for its applicability in protecting shorelines, creating natural habitat and biodiversity, generating energy, and providing public space. Balmori, head of Balmori Associates, worked with Riverkeepers to pick hardier plants that could withstand the Gowanus' murky waters. "We used their research to choose plants that could take the pollution," Balmori said. The nonprofit group monitors what pollutants and chemicals are in the canal's waters and advocates for its cleanup. Balmori also looked to plants naturally lining the canal's banks for the island's plant life. "You can see Sumac there and there," Balmori said, pointing to patches of green. "Sumac can take quite a lot." Other plant life on the GrowOnUs island was chosen for its industrial use dying cloth. Balmori said this is a nod to the local industry in the Gowanus neighborhood. Plants on the island include Fringed Sedge, Seaside Goldenrod, and Smooth Cordgrass—selected for their water-cleansing properties—and Black-Eyed Susan, Wild Indigo, and Smooth Sumac—chosen for their production qualities. The plants interact with the canal in a variety of ways. Some of the hardier plants draw their water directly from the waterway, with roots growing down through a structure of mesh and plastic bottles. Other plants use collected rainwater and some use water distilled with solar-powered equipment housed beneath small plastic domes within the island. At night, lights beneath colored filters will glow softly, announcing its presence on the canal. Several birdhouses have also been included—the island is also meant to create habitat for birds and insects. GrowOnUs was unveiled today along a promenade by the greenhouse-topped Gowanus Whole Foods, but will move to its final location this evening at the Seventh Street Basin of the canal.
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Diana Balmori's Meditation Room at IDEASCity 2015 explores the possibility of expansive horizons in crowded cities

Stemming from the idea that a city is but a stack of layered horizons, landscape architect Diana Balmori’s public installation for IDEASCity 2015 invites the viewer to contemplate where horizons occur in a pause-for-thought experience. Meditation Room: Horizon is a continuous constructed wall of paper where the overlapping of two dot matrix systems creates a visible horizon slightly above eye level. Presented by The Drawing Center, the installation expounds the revelations set forth in Balmori's book Drawing and Reinventing Landscape (2014), which explores horizon and peripheral vision to decode how designers perceive landscape and draw it accordingly. “The physical response to what you look at is vital; it activates the seeing,” Balmori wrote. The pleasure of drawing, she then muses, does not come from the act itself but “from enormous concentration essential to the act of drawing; from the intense looking that produces interior quiet and an imagined silence around you.” At the heart of Meditation Room is the concept that the landscape architect’s onus is to create a sense of expansive horizons within a city’s modest spaces. The piece will be installed at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side at Chrystie and Houston street on May 30 from 12–6pm. Balmori is the founder of New York–based Balmori Associates, an internationally recognized landscape architecture firm. An activist for sustainable architecture, Balmori is currently campaigning to widen and landscape the Broadway median between 72nd and 136th street to create a path with solar panels and wind turbines powered by the slipstream of passing cars.
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Ten Teams Shortlisted for HUD's Rebuild by Design Competition

In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the Rebuild by Design competition to develop strategies to increase the resiliency of urban and coastal areas in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. According to HUD's website, the goal of the competition is "to promote innovation by developing regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition also represents a policy innovation by committing to set aside HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and proposals. Examples of design solutions are expected to range in scope and scale—from large-scale green infrastructure to small-scale residential resiliency retrofits." The shortlist of 10 teams—including architects, landscape architects, university groups, developers, engineers and others—has been announced. Interboro Partners with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Infrastructure Planning Program; TU Delft; Project Projects; RFA Investments; IMG Rebel; Center for Urban Pedagogy; David Rusk; Apex; Deltares; Bosch Slabbers; H+N+S; and Palmbout Urban Landscapes. PennDesign/OLIN with PennPraxis, Buro Happold, HR&A Advisors, and E-Design Dynamics WXY architecture + urban design / West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture with ARCADIS Engineering and the Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University; Maxine Griffith; Parsons the New School for Design; Duke University; BJH Advisors; and Mary Edna Fraser. OMA with Royal Haskoning DHV; Balmori Associaties; R/GA; and HR&A Advisors. HR&A Advisors with Cooper, Robertson, & Partners; Grimshaw; Langan Engineering; W Architecture; Hargreaves Associates; Alamo Architects; Urban Green Council; Ironstate Development; Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation; New City America. SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Parsons Brinckerhoff; SeARC Ecological Consulting; Ocean and Coastal Consultants; The New York Harbor School; Phil Orton/Stevens Institute; Paul Greenberg; LOT-EK; and MTWTF. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism and the Dutch Delta Collaborative with ZUS; De Urbanisten; Deltares; 75B; and Volker Infra Design. Sasaki Associates with Rutgers University and ARUP. Bjarke Ingels Group with One Architecture; Starr Whitehouse; James Lima Planning & Development; Green Shield Ecology; Buro Happold; AEA Consulting; and Project Projects. unabridged Architecture with Mississippi State University; Waggoner and Ball Architects; Gulf Coast Community Design; and the Center for Urban Pedagogy.