Michael's leadership of MVVA is an extension of his passion for landscape as a living artistic medium that deepens and enriches people's lives through the confluence of aesthetics, technology, and ecology. Having spent his adult life in Boston and New York, he has combined his love of cities and the energy of urban living with the lessons of his childhood on a dairy farm in rural New York State, where economy of means was prioritized.
Michael earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and a Master of Fine Arts in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His personal and educational background creates a foundation for his integrative approach to design, which finds inspiration in the pragmatics of science while aspiring to the highest levels of artistic expression and social purpose. Michael oversees a wide range of projects in both the Cambridge and New York offices, where he promotes collaboration and discovery through his inclusive working style.
Currently the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Michael teaches landscape design as well as the use of plants as design material, synthesizing a broad range of influences into a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. He is a registered landscape architect in more than 25 states and in Canada, and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Michael received the National Design Award in Environmental Design from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2003. MVVA’s design for Brooklyn Bridge Park was awarded the prestigious Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York, having been selected as the work of art in 2010 that best exemplifies and contributes to the vibrant life of New York City. Michael was named the 2010 recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for contributions to the practice of architecture as an art, making him, after Dan Kiley, only the second landscape architect to be honored in the award’s 45-year history. In 2011, Michael was the recipient of the ASLA Design Medal, and he was a speaker at the MoMA’s “Second Wave of Modernism” conference in late November.