• "Hilary and I met once in 2017 when I delivered a painting..."
    - Anthony Browne
  • "I have been out of touch with MIT for a while, so only..."
    - Ellen Katz
  • "I knew Hilary at Princeton in the mid-70s. She was a..."
    - Claude Goldenberg
  • "I knew Hilary Ballon through my brother Mark Jarzombek who..."
    - Michelle Jarzombek- Drum
  • "I was so saddened to hear about the passing of the..."
    - Mark Momjian


We lost Hilary, our radiant guiding light, on June 16, 2017 at age 61. The outpouring of love and gratitude she received in her final months testified to the values she modeled and the institutions, careers and lives she changed. But her heart and soul was her family; her greatest legacy is her presence in the fiber of those she loved. What mattered for her was being a good person, relentlessly exploring and extracting the joys of the world, and constantly celebrating and expressing gratitude for life's blessings. Hilary's fortitude, lust for life, poise, and devotion to others while confronting her own mortality will be a permanent inspiration. Hilary received her B.A. with High Honors from Princeton and her Ph.D from M.I.T. She was Senior Advisor to the Mellon Foundation, University Professor at NYU, and Deputy Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi. She was a founding leader of the team that conceptualized and built NYUAD, bringing the model of a global liberal arts university to the Middle East. She was honored by the unanimous faculty vote to establish the Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at NYUAD and the Washington Square plaque commemorating her contributions at NYU. Her scholarship concerned cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life, with a recent focus on New York City. In 2012 she received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture for her publications and curatorial work. She was honored by numerous other fellowships and awards, including national book prizes in the United States and France. She curated exhibitions on subjects including the Manhattan grid, Robert Moses, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Most recently, she co-curated MCNY's permanent exhibition on the City and had lead responsibility for the Future City Lab. She spent 22 years at Columbia University, where she won the University's three awards for outstanding teaching and chaired the Department of Art History and Archaeology and numerous committees, including Admissions. She also chaired or served on over a dozen educational and non-profit boards, reflecting her powerful sense of civic duty and cultural and intellectual interests. She is survived by her husband Orin Kramer; her children, Sophie and Charles; her brother Howard (Joan), sister Carla Gorrell (Mick), sister-in-law Sari Kramer; and their children. Funeral services will be held at Central Synagogue, 55th Street and Lexington Ave., on Monday, June 19th at 1pm. Shiva will be at the Ballon/ Kramer residence in Englewood from 4-9pm Monday and 6-9pm Tuesday. For those wishing to honor Hilary, contributions can be made to the Hilary Ballon Scholarship Fund at New York University supporting first generation college students and community college transfers. Please call 212-988-6960 for further information.

Published in The New York Times on June 17, 2017
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