LILA 2024 Honour Award

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

MVVA was established in 1982 in New York City by Michael Van Valkenburgh and today comprises over 100 people in four offices. Their portfolio features an astounding number of dramatically diverse works of all scales, from complex waterfronts, flood infrastructure, long-term developments parks, plazas, and campuses to tiny courtyards.

A subtle and particular MVVA’s touch is tangible throughout the portfolio. It is a quiet, yet recognizable presence, unconcerned with the passing trendy aesthetic regimes and introduced so diligently, it always positively complements landscape’s performative functions and ultimately deepens the experience. MVVA’s design approach reflects a respectful yet confident and playful conversation between expression, function, and the dynamics of natural processes.

Their projects feel immersive and comfortable, almost as if they aim to embrace the visitor through the outstanding use of topography and vegetation, as is visible in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Chelsea Cove, and others. Another distinguishing feature in MVVA’s work is the use of stone, often in the form of pavement or seating areas, but also in a bolder display, like the beautifully strange ice wall and playscape in Teardrop Park, stone work in Gathering Place in Tulsa or marble slabs in the Boston Children’s Museum Plaza. Such creative translation of everyday material into an uncanny landscape experience is vital for awakening the landscape into public perception.

MVVA’s free-ranging imagination masters all the creative tools landscape architecture provides. The gradient of the design intensity moves between more visually expressive works like Max Family Garden, Monk’s Garden or a series of private courtyards to prudent interventions like the Residence on Horseshoe Lake or Cove Garden. Their versatile landscape vocabulary effortlessly answers to various spatial or financial conditions; the LILA-awarded Shirley Chisholm Park project made the former landfill accessible to visitors for a minimal budget.

After four decades of experience, MVVA continues to surprise and be curious. Not only directly through their designs; the office has been sponsoring young design staff to go on research projects of their own invention. Landezine visited MVVA’s headquarters in Brooklyn and the space felt like an inspiring environment where play, experiment, and model-making are in focus.

Many of their works have already become iconic and a must-see for any landscape architect who comes near one. But more importantly, they are clearly loved by the people, other species, and as it becomes obvious – time.


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