Stretching along nine blocks of New York City’s Upper East Side, Rockefeller University is a world-renowned medical research institution with an impressive roster of Nobel Prize winners — and beautiful river views. Once a harmonious urban oasis of 19th century buildings and 20th century modernism stitched together by a renowned Dan Kiley landscape, the campus was brutalized in the 1970s by the erection of three towers that resulted in a series of leftover and barren voids in the most active zone of the campus.
To remedy this plight, the University sponsored an invited competition that Thomas Balsley Associates won with this crisp yet contemplative design, a respectful update of the iconic allees and white marble paths of Dan Kiley. The designers resolved the disparate geometries, staggered topography, and programmatic requirements with one strong, simple move: a circular ginkgo grove and its concentric fountain — a low wall slotted with cooling waterspouts — around which the other spaces revolve.
These other spaces become multi-level outdoor rooms offering varying degrees of intimacy, from a quiet garden bench to a large, open performance lawn. The character of each space is defined by a rich palette of paving, planting, and furniture: robust planters and walls of Ashlar stone. Custom-designed circular metal “Vortex” shade sculptures divert attention from the ‘70s towers and provide shelter for a new river overlook terrace. For its precision, thoughtful details, and clean, crisp lines, the plaza takes its cue from a Swiss watch.
Located on Manhattan’s West Side, Balsley Park, formerly known as Sheffield Plaza, has been transformed from a barren, lifeless plaza into the community’s most cherished common ground.
Following public outcry and many failed attempts to redesign the plaza, Thomas Balsley Associates was hired to build community consensus around a new park-like image and ...
After an extensive public dialogue on its original design and performance, the City of Denver decided on a redesign of Skyline Park, downtown Denver’s only public open spaces. The three-block-long, three-acre, linear park is at the center of downtown Denver and is bisected by the 16th Street Mall, a lively pedestrian space that connects many of Denver’s attrac...
A new office tower, theater and café pavilion known as Alameda is being built in the high end district of downtown Sao Paulo; the centerpiece of the site design is the Alameda civic plaza. Lifted gently above the street level, four generous steps invite visitors to enter and explore the plaza while branded light pylons at all major entrances serve as place mar...
Situated in central Tokyo’s university and publishing district, this new mixed-use project brought urban streetscape character to its immediate neighborhood through the introduction of plazas whose fountains, seating areas, cafes and sculptures serve residents, workers, and the community as a refuge from the busy streets.
A diagram of pedestrian flows t...