Thomas Balsley Covers Uncommon Ground

Archtober

BY ANNA RACHEL RICH, ANNAR@SRQMEDIAGROUP.COM SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY OCT 16, 2014

The Center for Architecture Sarasota welcomes highly acclaimed Thomas Balsley tonight for a lecture on his practice of landscape architectural design in the public realm. Balsley plans to explore the transformative powers of landscape urbanism, presenting commissions ranging from large-scale urban development plans in Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai to new downtown parks in Baltimore, Los Angeles and Tampa’s own Curtis Hixon Park.

You’ve completed over 100 notable parks and plazas across the globe. What insight can Sarasota participants expect to gain attending your lecture tonight? I’m looking forward to sharing the work I’ve done over the years, hopefully striking a cord with people in respect to their artistic sensibilities and the connections my work has back to building communities and revitalizing cities. I’m showing a couple snippets of residences that I’ve done, then going more into an urban-centric focus. What are the biggest urban landscaping challenges you see in a city like Sarasota? Every city, if it’s healthy, has a center. I think Sarasota is missing that. Tampa was missing that until we cleared a couple buildings out of their waterfront and gave them a new “here.” Every city should have a place of “here”—that place where you meet, where you have festivals, where you celebrate, where you show off to the visitors. Every city needs that and I think it’s safe to say Sarasota needs that. You say parks are among society’s “truest forms of democracy.” What makes the practice of landscape urbanism within parks successful? From my point of view, I haven’t succeeded unless the public has given it a nice, tight, warm embrace. We’ve all seen nice designs get installed and nobody cares about them 5 years later and they get torn down 10 years later. I take a lot of pride in the fact that ours are coming out of a dialogue of a public process and that’s what I think is one of the keys to their success.  

Tomas Balsley Associates

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