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2015 ASLA Design Medal to Thomas Balsley, FASLA

Thomas Balsley, FASLA, is known for melding landscape and urbanism in public spaces.

Thomas Balsley, FASLA, best known for its fusion of landscape and urbanism in our public parks and plazas, will receive the 2015 ASLA Design Medal in recognition of his exceptional design work over the course of over 35 years. Balsley has designed more than 100 public parks and plazas in New York City, including Peggy Rockefeller Plaza, Chelsea Waterside Park, Riverside Park South, Queens West Park, Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point Community Park.

Thomas Balsley has designed more than 100 public parks and plazas in New York City alone. In recognition of his contributions to New York City's public realm, a park he designed on 57th Street was renamed Balsley Park. Pictured here are just two Balsley projects: 51 Astor Place (left) and the Intercontinental Hotel.

Thomas Balsley believes that public open spaces are the ultimate, democratic common ground. TBA's projects outside New York include Main Street Garden Park in Dallas, Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick in San Francisco, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, the plazas at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, the World Trade Center Plaza in Osaka, Japan and the Magok Waterfront and the National Ecological Center in South Korea.

In one of the nomination letters to ASLA, Jennifer Nitzky, RLA, ASLA-NY Chapter president, notes that Thomas Balsley's design work is often found on the "margins of the city, the industrial edges, the waterfronts and the scraps left over from the urban grid. It is in these spaces that he pushes the possibilities of landscape architecture to move beyond the romantic and the merely decorative."

Charles McKinney, principal urban designer with NYC Parks, said in his nomination letter that Balsley's design for Riverside Park South was "promethean, transforming a derelict rail yard blighted by an overhead highway into a trove of delightful waterfront surprises."

"Gantry Plaza State Park and Riverside Park South have come to be two of my very favorite parks in NYC," said Adrian Benepe, senior vp and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land, in his nomination letter. "Their holistic designs encompass unique but timeless furnishings and providing simple but elegant grandeur to NYC's waterfront landscapes."

Mr. Balsley will receive the ASLA Medal at the President's Dinner on November 9 in Chicago, the last evening event of the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting.

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October 15, 2019, 10:34 pm PDT

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