Firm Profile: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates

By on November 8, 2010.

Several weeks ago ASLA’s TheDirt posted an interview with Michael VanValkenburgh on the profession of Landscape Architecture and connecting natural and urban environments.

His firm, MVVA, is based in NYC and utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to extend the breadth of landscape architecture. Their work focuses on embracing users and engaging them into landscapes for feeling and activity.

Teardrop Park, NYC

The article summarizes some recent projects and the theories that drive them. Article Link

While ‘landscape urbanism’ has been touted as the saving grace of urban design, MV defines it as the restructuring of the former architecturally driven urban design. The idea of ‘ecological urbanism’ is the application of science and ecology into the design of cities. This integrates and elevates our natural systems within our cities and leads to sustainable continuity.

Throughout the article, Michael Van Valkenburgh attributes the successes of his firm to the collaborations with engineering professionals, toxic contaminate researchers and his firms almost obsessive care for materiality and details.

“We experience landscape through what we see and smell and feel. The sensual aspects of landscape are what I care most deeply about in our medium. Materiality is therefore crucial to my firm’s work; we design with specific materials in mind and we oversee the building of all of our projects in order to safeguard but also modify our original ideas about how things will feel in daily use”  M.V. from Dirt Interview

Here are some designs from MVVA’s winning St Louis Arch Park proposal



James Wheeler is a student of Landscape Architecture and Ecology at the University of Florida and a contributing writer to Landscape Invocation.

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