Signe Nielsen is a founding partner of MNLA and has been working as a landscape architect and urbanist in New York since 1978. Her work focuses on the revitalization of urban landscapes and the environmental integrity of communities, involving the design transformation of spaces for city residents. She is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and has received over 100 national and local awards for public open space projects. In addition to her national and international educational and publishing activities, Signe Nielsen serves as a professor of urbanism and landscape architecture at the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture. She is also a former president of the New York City Public Design Commission. Born in Paris, she studied urbanism at Smith College, landscape architecture at the City College of New York, and later construction management at Pratt Institute. Signe Nielsen has worked on more than 400 projects, with notable achievements including the redesign of public spaces around the Hudson River Park in New York – Aerial (shoreline improvement), Pier 25 (recreational area on the pier), Basketball Courts (courts), and Tribeca Section.
Thomas Balsley (SWA) is a renowned architect with a wealth of experience based in New York. He studied at Syracuse University and later at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Balsley has lectured at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, the National Building Museum, and Seoul National University. He has received several international recognitions, including from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architects, the Environmental Design Research Association, and the Institute for Urban Design, among others. Known for connecting landscape and city in public parks, waterfronts, and squares throughout the United States and abroad, Thomas Balsley has been transforming social and cultural spaces into sustainable and vibrant urban landscapes for over 35 years. In New York alone, he has completed more than 100 parks and squares, including Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park and Gantry Plaza Park, both of which received the prestigious ASLA Honor Award in 2014. Recently, the SWA studio led by Thomas Balsley completed the reconstruction of 51 Astor Place Square, located on the other side of the East River. In recognition of his long-standing contributions to the city and its residents, a small park on 57th Street was symbolically named Balsley Park.