Posts tagged with "Diana Balmori":

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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.