Balmori, Diana

Diana Balmori

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Dates of Birth and Death

June 4, 1932 – November 14, 2016


Gijón, Spain


  • University of Tucumán, Argentina, Undergraduate Architecture 1949-1958
  • UCLA, Ph.D., Urban History, 1973
  • Radcliffe College, Landscape Architecture Certificate, 1989

Years of practice

1980–2016 (estimated)


  • Cesar Pelli Associates
  • Balmori Associates

Related websites


Bilbao, Canada, China, Connecticut, FASLA, India, Japan, Joel Sanders, Mumbai, New Haven, New York, New York City, Pelli, SUNY, Shanghai, Shenzhen, South America, South Korea, Spain, UCLA, United States, Yale School of Architecture, Yale School of Forestry, Yale University, bridge, green roof, landscape, master plan, river walk, roof garden


Early life and education

Born in GijónSpain, Diana Balmori spent most of her childhood in Spain and England before her family settled in Argentina. Her mother Dorothy Ling (born in England) was an extraordinary musician and musicologist. Her father Clemente Hernando Balmori (born in Spain) was one of the most influential Spanish linguistic experts. Diana was an extremely imaginative and creative child, and was drawn to the arts at an early age. She learned to sing, dance, play piano, and her parents encouraged her to explore a wide range of mediums – literature and poetry, Latin and Greek, painting and music. As she forayed into the design world, she brought many of these influences with her, greatly informing her successful and unique design style.

She graduated from high school at the age of 16 and decided to study at the Architecture School at the National University of Tucumán in Argentina in the undergraduate program, and then emigrated to the United States. Balmori continued her education at the University of California at Los Angeles, earning her Ph.D in Urban History and graduating with highest honors. After graduation, she entered the world of academia, accepting a teaching position at the State University of New York and eventually holding undergraduate seminars in Landscape History at Yale School of Architecture. All the while, Balmori continued her own education, studying landscape architecture at Radcliffe College, until she was made partner at Cesar Pelli Associates, where she also founded their in-house Landscape Architecture department. She continued to work as a partner at CPA before leaving in 1990 to start her own firm, Balmori Associates.

Career in Architecture

Dr. Balmori’s interest in landscape and urban design grew out of her interest in public space; the way it is used and designed, and its role and effect on the larger environment. Her design style is recognized by the way it creates a fluid interface between landscape and structure in the development of urban public spaces. The work explores how form can respond to a new understanding of nature – not simply as visual imitation – but contingent on an understanding of process. Diana Balmori has established a signature and functional aesthetic by applying inventive design thinking to a careful study of the social aspects of ecological, hydrological and temporal dimensions of projects.

She is also an innovator in sustainable systems; one aspect of this is in the area of green roofs. This “fifth façade”, as Balmori has called the huge expanse of urban rooftops, is now a frontier for designers and architects. By exploring this fifth façade, it becomes possible to change not only how a building looks, but also how it functions; green roofs offer an alternative future in the evolution of the urban landscape and can alleviate urban air pollution, heat island effects and the handling of stormwater.

Major Buildings and Projects

  • Nippon Telephone & Telegraph Shinjuku Headquarters, Tokyo (with Cesar Pelli & Associates, completed 1995)
  • Master Plan for the Abandoibarra District, Bilbao, Spain (with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, 1996)
  • Prairie Waterway Stormwater Park, Farmington, MN (completed 1996)
  • Cleveland Clinic Lerner Institute Courtyard, Cleveland, OH (with Cesar Pelli Associates, completed 1998)
  • National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (with Cesar Pelli Associates, completed 2004)
  • 684 Broadway Penthouse Roof Garden, New York, NY (completed 2008)
  • Repsol-YPF Headquarters, Buenos Aires, Argentina (with Pelli Clarke Pelli, completed 2008)
  • The Garden That Climbs the Stairs, Bibao, Spain (completed 2009)
  • Bedford House, Bedford Corners, NY (with Joel Sanders Architect, completed 2011)
  • Campa de los Ingleses, Bilbao, Spain (with RTN and Lantec, open 2011)
  • Plaza Euskadi, Bilbao, Spain (with Lantec, open 2011)
  • Metis Garden Festival Installation, Grand Metis, Canada (with Consulmar S.R.L and Denis Pelli, completed 2011)
  • Public Administration Town, Sejong City, South Korea (With H Associates and Heahn Architecture, Under Construction)
  • Torre Cajasol, Seville, Spain (with AYESA, Under Construction)
  • New York Police Academy, New York, NY (with Perkins+Will and Michael Feldman Architects, Under Construction)
  • Tong-Shan Jie Residential Complex, Shanghai, China (with Pelli Clarke Pelli, Under Construction)
  • Godrej Campus Master Plan & Corporate Headquarters, Mumbai, India (with Pelli Clarke Pelli and Atelier 10, Under Construction)
  • Hua Qiang Bei Road, Shenzhen, China (with Work AC, ARUP, and Zhubo Engineering, Under Construction)

Press and Awards

  • Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Diana Balmori.” Places 12:2 College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley 1999: 57.
  • Bond, Shannon. “At Home: Diana Balmori.” Financial Times 8 February 2013.
  • Green, J. “Interview with Diana Balmori,” The Dirt-Blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects, 11 April 2012.
  • Ivy, Robert. “Editorial: Beyond Legalisms.” Architectural Record November 2007 Beyond Legalisms
  • Sokol, David. “Asian Cities Go Green.” Business Week November 2007
  • Usborne, David. “Perfect Company.” Monocale July 2007: 84–88.
  • Merkel, Jane. “Urban American Landscape” AD March–April 2007: 36–47.
  • Kim, JinOh. “Principal of Balmori Associates: Diana Balmori” ela March 2007: 114–116.
  • JooEun, YeeOh. “International Competition for the Master Plan of Public Administration Town.” C3 March 2007: 136–145
  • Chamberlain, Lisa. “View from the Bridge.” Metropolis Magazine September 2006: 97–101.
  • Martineau, Kim. “Activists Blaze Trail Through Yale.” The Hartford Current 5 February 2006.
  • Lockhart. “Coming to the East 40’s: Ground Zero.” Curbed 10 November 2005.
  • Williams, Sam. “Cool(er) Roofs Gotham Gazette October 2005
  • Kennedy, Randy. “It’s Not Easy Making Art That Floats.” The New York Times 10 August 2005.
  • Chamberlain, Lisa. “A Roof Garden? It’s Much More Than That.” The New York Times 10 August 2005.
  • Chamberlain, Lisa. “Green roofs sprouting across U.S. skylines.” International Herald Tribune August 2005.


  • “Tra Fiume e Cittá Paesaggi, Progetti e Principi”: Bollati Boringhieri, (Italy) 2009
  • Balmori C3 Publications, (Korea) 2007
  • With Gaboury Benoit. “The Land and Natural Development (LAND) Code, Guidelines for Sustainable Land Development,” John Wiley and Sons Ltd. (United States) 2006
  • “Mapping in The Age of Digital Media: The Yale Symposium” co-authored with M. Silver: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. (United Kingdom) 2003
  • “Information Exchange: How Cities Renew, Rebuild and Remember” Interview with Joan Oakman and Paulsen Sherida: Van Alen Institute, (United States) 2003
  • With Roy Slade and Gregory Wittkopp, photography by Balthazar Korab. Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of Art. Harry N. Abrams, (United States) 1995
  • With Margaret Morton. Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives. Yale University Press, (United States) 1995
  • With F. Herbert Bormann and Gordo Geballe. Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony. Yale University Press, (United States) 1993
  • With Charles A. Flink, Peter Lagerwey, and Robert M. Searns. Trails for the Twenty-First Century: Planning, Design,and Management Manual for Multi-Use Trail, ed. Karen-Lee Ryan. National Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: Island Press, (United States) 1993
  • With Diane McGuire and Eleanor McPeck. Beatrix Farrand, American Landscapes:Garden and Campus Designs. Sagapress, (United States) 1985

Institutional Affiliations

  • Design Critic, Yale University School of Architecture (1993-present)
  • Lecturer, Yale University School of Forestry (1990-present)
  • William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design, Yale University (Fall 2008)
  • Senior Fellow in Garden and Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC (2006)
  • Davenport Chair of Architectural Design, Yale University (Spring 2004)
  • Member of the Committee for a Comprehensive Design Landscape Plan for the White House (1999)
  • Landscape Architecture Certificate Program, Radcliffe College (1989)
  • Professor, State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego (1974-1981)
  • BA (1970), Ph.D. (1973) in Urban History with Highest Honors, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Undergraduate Architecture Program, University of Tucumán, Argentina (1949-1952)