Diana Balmori: Adding Delight to Life

People / Places / May 20, 2013

Diana Balmori was born in Spain, lived in England and Argentina and graduated with a PhD from UCLA.

Now she practices landscape architecture in Bilbao, South Korea and Memphis, Tenn.

A former professor of landscape history at Yale University’s School of Architecture, and a partner in Cesar Pelli’s firm, she established Balmori Associates in 1990.

And she specializes in managing change.

“Change has become much faster,” she says.  “If there one thing that landscape architecture has to do today, it is to deal with constant change – and not only that but with how it s accelerating, and how frequently.”

High water and extreme weather are playing a big role.  And nowhere is that more true than in Memphis, where the Mississippi River rises and falls, floods and recedes, on a regular basis.

But that’s where her firm is finishing up a longstanding project, at river’s edge near the end of Beale Street, the legendary blues venue.  They’re creating a public space for music at night, right where all the boats pull up.  There will be a cutting-edge docking system, plenty of space for parking cars, and an innovative set of “trays” for public spaces.

“Each one is at a different level, because the water on the Mississippi varies wildly – we anticipate that some will be covered during the year,” she says.

The “trays” are a physical embodiment of a design perspective that chooses to accept nature as it is, and change as it changes.

“We do not believe in having to build all kinds of bastions to deal with water,” she says.

Instead, she prefers to place her emphasis on beauty and creativity – to make visible the things found in nature – the sunshine, rain, wind and snow.

“Enormous beauty adds delight to your life,” she says.

That’s an attitude she now demonstrates all around the globe.

For more information, go to http://www.balmori.com

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Michael Welton




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