Diana Balmori, New York, NY
Occupation: Founding principal of the urban and landscape design firm Balmori Associates
Purpose: “To design beautiful and inclusive exterior urban spaces.”

Diana grew up a citizen of the world’s cities, moving from country to country with her parents. But she spent many childhood Sundays the same way: walking over bridges with her architect uncle. While he looked at the structures, Diana considered “the rivers and how they interrupted the cities,” she says. Fast-forward to a research position, studying how cities work. “I did a lot of research and writing about public spaces and landscapes,” she recalls. Thing is, Diana loves to draw. So it was natural that one day she thought “it would be more interesting to design it than to write about it.”

Today, her firm has designed more than seventy-five spaces worldwide that push the boundaries between nature and structure. “I want them to foster life for anyone who uses them. And to attract life, whether it’s plants, insects, birds, or mammals.” Her favorite challenge to date: the public space masterplan for the old port area of Bilbao, Spain. “Its intent was to weave this site into the rest of the city.