Thomas Balsley Principal, SWA/Balsley

“The vitality of any city can be gauged by the richness and vibrancy of its public realm, and its public spaces should reflect our civic values, our sense of place, and our commitment to the quality of life we have promised all citizens."

Thomas Balsley is a renowned designer whose New York City-based practice is best known for its fusion of landscape and urbanism in public parks, waterfronts, and plazas throughout the US and abroad. For over 35 years, Tom’s work has reshaped social and cultural spaces with robust sustainable landscapes that teem with public life. In New York City alone, he has completed more than 100 parks and plazas, including the 2014 ASLA Honor Award-winning Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park and Gantry Plaza Park, across the East River from the UN; Riverside Park South; Chelsea Waterside Park; Peggy Rockefeller Plaza; Capitol Plaza; and the recently completed 51 Astor Place plaza, across from Cooper Union. In an unprecedented gesture, a small park on 57th Street was named Balsley Park in recognition of his design contributions to the city.

Spacemaker Press devoted a monograph to Thomas Balsley Associates’ work: “Thomas Balsley: The Urban Landscape.” In 2015, Mr. Balsley received ASLA’s highest design honor, the Design Medal. ORO Editions has just released his firm’s second monograph, “Thomas Balsley: Uncommon Ground,” with foreword by James Corner and an essay by Ian Volner.

Inspired By

The juxtaposition and harmony of natural and human habitat; the dynamics of public open space; the genius and acumen of Peter Walker and the tenacity of Paul Friedberg.


Bachelor of Science at Syracuse University

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at SUNY ESF

Affiliations & Registrations

Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects (Year-Present)

Honorary Member, AIA NY (Year-Present)

Fellow, Institute for Urban Design

Fellow and National Register of Peer Professionals, GSA

Associate Private Member, Urban Land Institute

Member, Waterfront Center

Member, City Parks Alliance

Member, International Downtown Association

Member, Forum for Urban Design

Trustee, Parks Council

Member, CTBUH

Member, CLARB

Selected Awards

ASLA Design Medal

National Honor Award, ASLA, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park

Honor Award, The Waterfront Center, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park

American Architecture Award, The Chicago Athenaeum, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park

National Honor Award, ASLA, Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens, NY