Matthew Urbanski
Principal, New York
Matthew is a principal at MVVA, where he has worked for over 25 years. Along with Michael Van Valkenburgh and Laura Solano, he has been part of the leadership team for many of the major projects the firm has completed. He has planned and designed landscapes in the United States, Canada, and France, including waterfronts, parks, college campuses, sculpture gardens, and private gardens. Collaborating with Michael, he was a lead designer of Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, NY, Segment 5 of Hudson River Park in New York City, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, IL, Penn Park in Philadelphia, PA, Alumnae Valley at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh, PA, and Teardrop Park in New York City. 

Matthew began his career at MVVA working on both small gardens and larger projects, most notably Mill Race Park in Columbus, IN. He frequently uses plantings in dramatic ways that create a distinctive complement to an urban or architectural context. Michael and Matthew have coined the term “hypernature” to describe this aspect of their work. Examples of hypernature include the use of birches and meadow plantings in the General Mills Corporate Headquarters entry landscape (now destroyed ) and the diversely planted hedgerows at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Matthew is also interested in the concept of landscape imagination, or design that illuminates the unique capacity of the landscape medium and embraces the idea that enjoyment and delight are essential programmatic elements in built landscapes.

Matthew is an Associate Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, teaching courses on horticulture, plants, and ecology, as well as studio courses. In frequent lectures at universities, cultural institutions, and other public forums, he talks about the expanding role of landscape architecture in urban design and the emerging recognition of parks as the engines of the livable city. Through his lectures and his publications, he encourages landscape architects to seek inspiration in the tools that are unique to their profession and to develop the programs, spaces, and experiences that are appropriate to the capacity of each site.

In addition to his work as a designer, Matthew is co-owner of Red Hill Nursery, a plant nursery in New Jersey that specializes in diverse species, varieties, and forms that are not commonly available in large commercial nurseries. Matthew attended Albright College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He studied horticulture at Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture and then attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, receiving a Master of Landscape Architecture. He is a licensed landscape architect in Massachusetts.

< back to staff