Michael Van Valkenburgh
Michael Van Valkenburgh is the Creative Director of MVVA, the landscape architecture firm he founded in 1982. Michael serves on projects as a Lead Designer and guides creative teams composed of the firm’s 100 employees. Raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For his leadership in design at MVVA, Michael was awarded the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor customarily bestowed on architects. Brooklyn Bridge Park, an ongoing project of MVVA’s since 1999, earned the 2021 Rosa Barba International Prize of Landscape Architecture as well as the 2010 Brendan Gill Prize, which recognizes the work of art that “best captures the spirit and energy of New York City.” In 1989, Michael was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. His book Designing a Garden (The Monacelli Press, 2019) traces the creation of the Monk’s Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 2012.
Michael lives near Brooklyn Bridge Park and spends his summers in Chilmark, Massachusetts, where he has tended to and remade his one-acre garden for more than 30 years. Michael is the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Emeritus at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where he has taught since 1982 and served as Department Chairman from 1991 to 1996. His election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences recognized his exceptional work as an educator.