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.
The Culver Steps
Founder Harry Culver’s renowned axiom, “All roads lead to Culver City,” acquires new meaning with a spectacular addition to ongoing downtown revitalization. The Culver Steps is a public/private collaboration between The City of Culver City and Hackman Capital Partners devised to highlight the city’s creative “maker tradition,” from its involvement in the filmm...
33 Beekman Street Plaza is a public plaza that also serves as the front entrance to a new 30-story Pace University Dormitory, located in the financial district. The contemporary plaza appearance synchronizes with the contemporary plaza of Frank Gehry’s high-rise residential tower across Beekman Street to South.
Chelsea Waterside Park
In 1986, Thomas Balsley Associates was asked by the Chelsea Waterside Park Association to translate this community’s vision for a waterfront park into a design document that would be used to plan the new Route 9-A and the proposed Hudson River Park. Ten years later, when funding for the Chelsea Waterside Park was identified, Thomas Balsley Associates won an in...
Soundview Park, built on 212 acres of landfill at the junction of the Harlem and East Rivers in the South Bronx, is the most significant recreational facility in Community Board 9. As part of the PlanNYC initiative, Thomas Balsley Associates was selected as the lead designer of Soundview’s master plan. This brownfield remediation will drastically improve both ...