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Moment of Silence: Diana Balmori,

(1932-Nov. 14, 2016)


Diana Balmori, PhD, FASLA, IFLA, passed away at the age of 84 in Manhattan. She was suffering from lung cancer.

Diana was born in 1932 in Gijón, on the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain. Her parents fled Spain to England in 1936 with the family in tow to escape the political turmoil of the Spanish Civil War.

She began to study architecture at the University of Tucuman in Argentina, but did not complete her studies. It's reported her entire class was expelled for student protests. It's also reported she held a teaching position at the University of Tucuman.

She immigrated to the United States in 1952 with her husband, the architect Cesar Pelli, whom she met at the university. Balmori moved to Los Angeles in 1964 and earned a PhD in urban history with highest honors from UCLA in 1973. In 1974, she began teaching at the State University of New York in Oswego, and earned a certificate in landscape design from Radcliffe College.

In 1985 Balmori coauthor Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes with Diane Kostial McGuire and Eleanor McPeck.

Balmori was the Davenport chair of architectural design at the Yale School of Architecture. At Yale she also had appointments in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and was a William Henry Bishop visiting professor of architectural design.

In 1980 she joined her husband's firm in New Haven, Cesar Pelli & Associates. Balmori founded Balmori Associates ( in 1990. In 2006 she created BAL/LABs, a studio within the firm to "further push the boundaries of architecture, art and engineering," which included green roofs, floating islands, temporary landscapes and the concept of "zero waste" cities.

She developed the master plan to transform the industrial port of Bilbao, Spain into a park that connected to the river (ria del Nirvion) and to the art museum (Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa) designed by Frank Gehry.

In New Haven, Conn., she worked with community leaders on a plan to turn 14 miles of abandoned rail line into a linear park, which extending through Yale University's campus. She was also involved with the Gwynns Falls Trails in Baltimore, and a trail system in Cedar Lake Park, Minneapolis. She designed a rooftop garden for the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens, and created a roof garden for the Solaire condominium complex in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. Her international work included urban rooftop gardens for South Korea's new administrative capital, Sejong City.

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October 15, 2019, 10:26 pm PDT

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