Balsley Earns ASLA Design Medal



The landscape architect who reimagined Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa as a modern cultural treasure now joins an elite group of professionals recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Thomas Balsley, founder of Thomas Balsley Associates in New York, will receive this year’s ASLA Design Medal, the greatest career recognition in the field. “It’s one of those things that seemed way beyond my reach,” Balsley told SRQ. “I never dared to dream that far. It’s the highest honor an individual designer can ever achieve.” 

Balsley came to Sarasota this year as a guest of SRQ Media to give a keynote speech on modern park design as part of the SB2 community conversation series. He toured the Sarasota Bayfront with tourism officials during the visit and continues to follow the visioning process on the future of the assembled land there. Balsley was unaware he was being considered for the award, and only learned after his selection for the award that his own staff had been in communication with the ASLA about the possibility. His office submitted information on Balsley’s most important park projects from his career. Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa was among that work, as were waterfront parks he helped plan in New York City.  

As for what the award means, Balsley said he cannot imagine any other professional achievement to which he can aspire. “But I joked if this is your way of getting me to retire, it’s not going to work,” he said. “It’s really the pinnacle of a person’s career in terms on name recognition. You can get all the press you want but it doesn’t mean much until your peers tell you you are worthy.” From here, Balsley said he will continue pursuing new projects. “Hopefully those great projects will win awards and enjoy the warm embrace of the communities they serve.”

Watch for an exclusive interview with Balsley in SRQ Media Group’s newest magazine, Modern Home, available July 1.

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