Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Diana Balmori (in memoriam)

Posted: Sep 30, 2019

Statement: Diana Balmori (1932–2016) was a landscape architect, artist, educator, and theoretician who promoted the integration of architecture, landscape architecture, ecology, theory, art, engineering, and environmental and urban planning. She described the conventional divide between architecture and landscape architecture as a “false dichotomy.” This vision of the built landscape as an aggregate of creative energies of all who contribute to making place was expressed throughout her work. The scope and the execution of her many varied projects blurred boundaries and challenged hierarchies. In a notable departure from convention, the landscape plan for the 667-acre New Government City of Sejong, South Korea (2014) conceptually preceded the architecture. In the diminutive GrowOnUs (2015), a floating garden in the polluted Gowanus Canal, the process of cleaning polluted water for the growth of plants drives the design. 

Diana’s work had an accessible spirit and a humanist agenda. It is palpable in the engaging Garden that Climbs the Stairs, designed in 1998 as a detail of her park system for Bilbao, Spain, and it also underlies her work with community groups for the design of Farmington Canal Linear Park in New Haven, Connecticut. This wonderful quality was not a theoretical or formal construct but was simply fundamental to her worldview and embedded in her character. Endlessly curious and open to new experiences, music, art, and ideas, Diana also possessed an intellectual appetite that was boundless. Her warmth, her kindness, and her generosity were a gift to all who knew her. Through the decades of our friendship, Diana was an enormous inspiration in my own exploration of landscape, and I cherish our many conversations about landscape and art, family and work, and how to live a meaningful life. With profound gratitude for her friendship, I make this gift in honor and loving memory of Diana Balmori.

                   —Leslie Rose Close, September 23, 2019

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