Landscape architect, Diana Balmori, passes away at 84

Updated Nov 19, 2016
The Abandoibarra masterplan transformed a derelict harbor into Bilbao’s greenest neighborhood. Photo: Balmori AssociatesThe Abandoibarra masterplan transformed a derelict harbor into Bilbao’s greenest neighborhood.
Photo: Balmori Associates

Landscape architect and innovative urban designer Diana Balmori died on Nov. 14 at the age of 84.

Born in Spain, Balmori grew up among artists and musicians. Her mother, Dorothy Ling, was an educator and musicologist while her father, Clemente Hernando, was a linguist who taught her both Greek and Latin. She later brought these influences into her work in the design world.

In 1936, she and her parents moved to Argentina where Balmori studied architecture at the National University of Tucuman. After graduating she immigrated to the United States and continued her education at the University of California in Los Angeles where she earned her PhD in urban history.

She taught at the State University of New York at Oswego before becoming a partner at Cesar Pelli Associates. Balmori oversaw the landscape architecture and urban design department.

Diana Balmori Photo: Margaret MortonDiana Balmori
Photo: Margaret Morton

Balmori founded her own landscape design firm in New York in 1990, and her work can be found throughout the world.

Some of her most well-known works include the 74-acre masterplan of the Abandoibarra District in Bilbao, Spain, the Prairie Waterway Stormwater Park in Minnesota, and numerous green roofs in Manhattan.

Balmori was an early advocate of ecological approaches to landscaping and published several books, including Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony in 1993, A Landscape Manifesto in 2010 and Drawing and Reinventing Landscape in 2014. She was also a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

She believed that landscape designers should be embedding cities in nature, instead of embedding nature into a city.

According to Balmori Associates’ website, her firm’s philosophy is “to set up a different type of relationship between ourselves and each of the elements of nature: soil, water, air, plants and animals. We want to change our ways of dealing with them, treat them as part of ourselves.”

As the firm’s founder Balmori leaves behind her two partners Noemi LaFaurie-Debany and Javier Gonzalez-Campana.

Balmori is survived by her husband, Cesar Pelli, sons Rafael Pelli and Denis Pelli, and granddaughters Delia and Iris.

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