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Alum endows lectures honoring landscape architecture professor

Michael R. Van Valkenburgh ’73 and his wife, Caroline, endowed an annual memorial lecture in honor of the late Marvin I. Adleman, professor emeritus of landscape architecture.

Cornell landscape architecture alumnus Michael R. Van Valkenburgh ’73 and his wife, Caroline, have endowed an annual memorial lecture in honor of the late Marvin I. Adleman, professor emeritus of landscape architecture. A landscape architect will be invited to campus to meet with students and give a public lecture about his or her work.

Van Valkenburgh, the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), will give the inaugural lecture Sept. 20 at 5:15 p.m. in Milstein Hall.

Adleman, a distinguished landscape architect, taught for 36 years at Cornell. He led the landscape architecture program for most of his tenure until his retirement in 2008. Prior to joining the Cornell faculty, Adleman worked at Sasaki and Associates in Boston before starting his landscape architecture practice in Philadelphia. In 1992, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and was awarded the society’s prestigious Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal in 2004.

Adleman designed numerous well-known outdoor spaces, including the original Ithaca Commons in 1974, one of the first pedestrian malls of its kind. On campus, he designed the arboretum at Cornell Botanic Gardens and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird garden. Locally, he designed Ithaca’s Cass Park children’s spray pool and the garden at Cayuga Medical Center, as well as several outdoor spaces at central New York schools and college campuses.

“Professor Adleman was a giant in the field of landscape architecture, and it is fitting that a luminary like Michael Van Valkenburgh would name a lecture series in his honor,” said Timothy Baird, professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. “Our students and the entire Cornell community will benefit from this series, and we are thrilled to have Michael give the inaugural lecture.”

Van Valkenburgh has taught at Harvard since 1982. As founding principal of MVVA, with offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Van Valkenburgh has designed projects ranging from intimate gardens to full-scale urban design undertakings. His recent projects include Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, the Lower Don Lands in Toronto and the Monk’s Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The firm has been commissioned to design the landscape for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago and the master plan for Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. The firm also designed Bailey Hall Plaza on the Cornell campus.

Van Valkenburgh was the 2003 recipient of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Environmental Design, and in 2010 became the second landscape architect in history to receive the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for contributions to architecture as an art. In 2011 he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Van Valkenburgh earned a bachelor’s in landscape architecture from Cornell and an MLA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2008, Yale University Press published “Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates: Reconstructing Urban Landscapes,” a book on his firm’s work.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.