Michael Van Valkenburgh: Parks, a campus, and three summer house gardens

Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh discusses his recent Brooklyn Bridge Park project.

November 22, 2011
7:00 p.m.

MVVA | Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY. Credit: Alexa Hoyer

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

Michael Van Valkenburgh will present the recent work of his firm, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). Based in Brooklyn and Cambridge, MVVA is a landscape architecture firm which works on projects in scale from the city to the campus to the garden. MVVA’s commissions have sought to achieve an “ecological urbanism,” with projects such as the master plans for Brooklyn Bridge Park and Wellesley College and built work like Mill Race Park and Allegheny Riverfront Park.

The office, led by its three principals, Laura Solano, Matthew Urbanski, and Van Valkenburgh, with a staff of 65, works closely with urban planners, architects, engineers, and ecologists. The firm’s projects have received numerous honors, including the ASLA Design Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects; the Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York City; Progressive Architecture Awards; and awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. MVVA has also won multiple high-profile design competitions including Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House, the Lower Don Lands project in Toronto, and The City + The Arch + The River competition for St. Louis and East St. Louis. Van Valkenburgh received the 2003 National Design Award in Environmental Design from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and was the 2010 recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Van Valkenburgh earned a BS in landscape architecture from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and a MFA in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Van Valkenburgh teaches landscape design as well as the use of plants as design material. He is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the American Academy of Landscape Architects.

Moderated by Kate Orff. Orff is a partner of Scape/Landscape Architecture and is the vice president for landscape of The Architectural League of New York.


This lecture is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.

This program is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.



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