What do you think of when you think of “landscape”?

The photo above (credit: Iwan Baan) showcases The Garden that Climbs Stairs in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Diana Balmori.

Balmori also created one of New York City’s largest green roof atop Silvercup Studios.

She’ll be here on November 15 with Peter Reed, senior deputy director of curatorial affairs at MoMA.

What do you think of when you think of “landscape”?

For IDEAS CITY 2015, The Drawing Center presents Balmori Associates’ “Meditation Room: Horizon” a constructed continuous wall of paper where the overlapping of two dot matrix systems comes together to create a visible horizon. “Meditation Room: Horizon” explores basic traits of landscape, in this case, the effect of an expansive open horizon—water and sky—inside a busy urban one.

Join us this Saturday, May 30 from noon-6pm in Sara D. Roosevelt Park near the corner of Chrystie and Houston.

Read conversation between Landscape and Urban Designer Diana Balmori and The Drawing Center’s Director Brett Littman


Brett Littman: Would you link this project then to some of your thoughts about drawing? Your entire career has been about drawing, particularly drawing the landscape. How do you see this project in relationship to the work you’ve been doing, both as making drawings, visual objects, and architecture?

Diana Balmori: This project very much relates to creating drawings that represent landscapes that are not defined by separate objects within it, but that express the continuity of space. In drawing we like to use a dot matrix approach, as one among others. Another approach is that of juxtaposing very intense patterns against each other which makes the line defining the object disappear. I’ve been very interested in any way that you can keep the continuous spatial flow. Therefore, the dot matrix greatly interests me because the space in between the dots achieves continuity that also juxtaposes the textures so that the outlines of objects disappear.


Brett Littman: We may find that the surrounding communities who live around Sara D. Roosevelt Park are already quite knowledgeable about how to tune out noise and the outside urban world. I know that in the morning there are many Chinese people who do Tai Chi in that park and I imagine they might be well-suited to the experience of a meditation room.

Are we asking people to draw anything?

Diana Balmori: Yes. We have blank sketchbooks and have prepared a rubber stamp to prompt people to draw. The customized rubber stamp creates a dot matrix pattern similar to what will be visually experienced in the Meditation Room that makes the perception of the horizon line fuzzier; and totally blank paper is available too, so that people can take whatever direction they want in response to the experience. We have provided beautiful colored pencils and black lead drawing pencils. It can be color, it can be in line, whatever. We encourage people to draw something that comes out of that moment, or contrast the continuous horizon with the multiple busy horizons of the city.

Read the full conversation here.


It feels fun and exciting, on an exquisite spring day in New York, to be working on publicity for a handful of deeply intriguing art-related projects this month.

Tonight, Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler will celebrate their new book together, Hurry Up and Wait, published by MoMA, with a party at the Instituto Cervantes as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. Fast Company Design and Maria Popova of Brainpickings are both big fans. The hosts will be ironing and giving away the handkerchiefs we had made for the party, among other aspects of this unusual and inspired evening. Come join us if you’re in town.

I’m also publicizing Small Victories, a lavishly illustrated and extraordinary debut memoir about beginning one of the world’s most important collection of prints and American artists, by Dave H. Williams. Publishers Weekly describes Small Victories as “something beautiful for everyone, along with a wealth of instruction in art history.” The Los Angeles Review of Books notes, “David Williams has written a valuable and pleasurable book. In addition to all the stories and prints, the reader gets a crash course on major European and American art movements and dozens of tasty art history tidbits — many of them vital to understanding the progression of 20th- century American art — such as how Pop Art, seemingly overnight, obliterated the hold Abstract Expressionism had on the art scene, and why Warhol deserves credit for almost single-handedly legitimizing screenprinting as a fine art practice." Says Alcalde, "Any collector can appreciate this tale of dedication, passion, and the lifelong pursuit of the next best piece.” The National Gallery of Art recorded a recent talk with Dave, and Reba White Williams, and made it into a podcast. There’s an excerpt, “Sex, Modernism and New York,” with some images, at Medium.

Diana Balmori will be unveiling her “Meditation Room,” long in the works, with the The Drawing Center at the New Museum on 5/30 for IDEAS CITY. I have worked with Diana for years, and her ideas –– from more liveable cities to strategies for coping with climate change –– always anticipate the zeitgeist. Here’s a wonderful interview with her in Guernica that challenges us to think.

If you’re in the Berkshires this summer, you can see the work of another member of the talented Baumbach family, Harold Baumbach, an accomplished painter who rejected fame. He’s the father of novelist Jonathan Baumbach, and the grandfather of filmmaker Noah Baumabach, and here’s a great story. 

I carry a notebook regularly. My jackets, most, have an inside pocket in which I carry a small Moleskine notebook. Purpose: to see. When you draw, you observe in a way that cannot be compared with just looking or with photographing. It is like getting inside what you are looking at, or better, you are becoming one with it. And you form an attachment to it.
—  Legendary designer Diana Balmori, interviewed at Notebook Stories

Can 19 Types of Plants Clean Some of America’s Dirtiest Water?

Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, known as one of the dirtiest waterways in America, a place where scientists sampling the water once found gonorrhea in the murk, is currently playing host to something a bit prettier.

A new “floating island” was launched recently in the canal in an attempt to clean the water. Landscape architect and urban designer Diana Balmori calls the project “GrowOnUS,” and the island includes 19 plant species living in metal culvert pipes filled with plastic bottles.